Self-Advocacy is Essential in the Disability Community

Where is the fight?

From Washington DC through the state capitals and in city halls across America the fight for disability rights is still being waged. The battles take many forms from great attacks like HR620 (the ADA Notification and Education Act) to the every day personal slights and degrading actions like  the assumption that if you have a disability you must be poor and unable to perform a real job.

It is the political climate that is responsible for the former and a lack of information and social understanding that perpetuates the last. The disability community is in part responsible for the political climate by not acting in consort as one political power base. We are also to blame for not providing and promoting better information about ourselves and insights that open up understanding of our abilities.

As a population of some sixty two million we could be better organized as a political voting block and not only stop attacks on our rights, but run the table at the Federal, state and local levels. We could also become active in the two major political parties and control their support as well.

On the social front we could promote our individual successes and show how the technologies of today not only make our work possible, but in many cases make us better employees than our non-disabled counterparts.

On the political front we must organize as though our lives depend on it, because they do. I’m not talking about top down grand pronouncements but rather street level community organizing. It begins with a few friends gathered around a kitchen table who agree to each gather a few more friends around other kitchen tables. These circles of action are the basis for making our presents felt. These circles of action then communicate using social media to coordinate there efforts.

At the social and employment levels we could gather stories and make the media pay attention first through social media and then by influencing their advertisers. The circles of action can campaign to the companies who fund media outlets through advertising to force editors and publishers to cover disability from a more positive and powerful prospective.

This is not about age groups with in the disability community. It is about all of us coming together and using the tools we have available. Those that can speak should speak, those that can write should write, those that can organize should organize and those that can hoast circles of action should hoast. The point is we let the issues overwhelm us on a day to day basis and that has to stop.

Each of us can befriend another person who can bring help to our community.

If we fail then we have no one to blaime, but ourselves as we watch our rights slip away. The fight is here and now at all levels. Get involved.

Douglas George Towne

Chairman Disability Relations Group

 

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