Monday, September 17, 2012

When we unite, we can win.

This editorial, by two lead sponsors of the Americans with Disabilities Act, lays out a pretty convincing argument that the needs of people living with disabilities must be addressed in our national campaigns. As a huge voting bloc (57 million Americans live with a disability), the disability community should get a fair amount of attention from leading candidates for public office. However, for too long, we've been fairly un-organized and only after our narrow subset of issues. For people living with MS, that means particular attention to access to health care (like prescriptions, durable medical equpiment, physical therapy) and general accessibility within the community. Those may not be the major concerns of other people with a disability, who instead are passionate about education or other issues.

That's beginning to change. At the federal level, the disability community has long had a number of coalitions aimed at furthering the lives of people with disabilities, like the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities. Here in Washington, the National MS Society teamed with other disability organizations like the Arc of Washington and the Directors of Disability Organizations to host a meeting of disability advocates on Friday, September 14. We met to see if we could start a disability coalition that would unite the concerns of all disability advocates in the state around a few important issues. If we could focus all of our united efforts on a common cause, I know we'd have a stronger impression on legislators than if we went at it alone. Stay tuned for more as this effort continues....

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