Honoring Disability Pride Month
Disability Pride Month for the month of July is symbolic as July 26th is the 32nd anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Some progress has been made to promote accessibility in many aspects of daily living for persons with disabilities but so much more needs to be done. Here is my top 8-item list that need continued support and changes in public policies for persons with disabilities:
- Increasing the monthly (dollar) benefits for SSI (Individuals who did not earn enough while working over time or received it as a child with a special need) or to a liveable amount to help many persons with disabilites not live in poverty. Encourage and motivate individuals to work part-time to enjoy the quality of life they deserve
- Increasing the monthly (dollar) benefits for SSDI (for individuals who worked 10 years full-time and/or paid social security benefits for a certain amont of time) for persons with disabilties so they can increase their opportunities to earn income working part-time and not living in poverty. Persons with visual and who are blind have a higher SSDI amounts than other disabilities due to their strong voices to make this so.
- Changing public policies to provide financial incentives for developers to build more accessible and affordable housing across middle-class communities. Developers want to make the big bucks in making high end apartments that simply leave out many persons with disabiltiies from affording the high rents that are charged on a monthly basis. Also, many landlords find creative ways to deny individuals with section 8 certificates for apartments as they don’t want to spend the money to make these units accessible due to high costs.
- Changing public policies to provide mandated education for sensitivity training for all healthcare workers; school teachers; employers; and the like to foster a climate of belongingness in these environments that either service persons with disabilities and/or work alongside them. Unfortunately, many workers still hold biases and misbeliefs on how to interact and to treat individuals with dignity and respect.
- Providing incentives and funding for public schools and communities to build fully accessible and inclusive playgrounds for all children with all abilities to play together and to have fun with each other. Unfortunately, high costs to install rubber cushion floorings that will allow children who have mobility impairments to move freely in the playgrounds is not readily achieveable for many communites and schools. Having said that, then why it is OK to exclude these children from playing with their friends when schools are promoting inclusion and respect for all in the classrooms?
- Advocating for free or low-cost transportation for persons with disabilities to ride the paublic buses, trains, and taxicabs that promote opportunities and access to services, shopping, medical care and the like.
- Increasing funding for special education services for children on both 504 and IEPs (Individual Education Plans) that are entitled to a quality education in the classrooms or in private schools that are approved to do so. Unfortunately, parents still need to make sure that their child’s 504 plans are being enforced as the federal law is not as stringent as some state laws across the US. Teachers and staff need to receive additional training alongside diversity topics with working with children and teens with disabilities.
- Holding towns and cities accountable for developing their transition plans to make sidewalks; public parks; public buildings and schools ;court houses; and public entities accessible and inclusive for all persons with disabilities. It is important to make sure these plans are feasible and equitable and done right the first time to avoid future higher costs to implement accessibility features across the board.