Moving Forward… a Bit at a Time .
This month I attended two gatherings that illustrated how we are, as a society, moving slowly forward toward operationalizing civil rights for people with disabilities. Both meetings were very positive, but they reflected the divergence between what we can do, and what we often actually do, in terms of inclusion.
The first event that I attended was the Abilities Expo in Chicago. There were at least 100 vendors showcasing products that ranged from cooking devices, to adapted vans and pick-up trucks, to communication devices, and art. There were Action Trackchairs outfitted for hunting, baby blankets designed for parents in wheelchairs, and fitness equipment for just about everyone. Presentations included assistance dogs, adaptive cheerleading and dance, water sports, and tips for international travel. There were hundreds of attendees of all sorts, and they were clearly not planning to go home and sit in front of the TV, waiting for something interesting to happen!
The other meeting I went to was the Missouri Alliance for Full Participation, a group of dedicated representatives from an array of agencies and stakeholders who are working together to promote the right of people with disabilities to earn a living wage by working in the community. They are drafting a proposal to go before Governor Jay Nixon stating that, in Missouri, we support the right of individuals with disabilities to work and earn an income. The message contained in this document is clear and irrefutable; the fact that we still need to create it and hope for a ratifying signature is a bit discouraging, 20 years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act.