reflections related to disability advocacy, family and (needed) cultural change
Friday, February 06, 2009
Senate Debates Disability Portions of Stimulus Bill
I am so frustrated right now I could scream. The economic stimulus bill is before the Senate as we speak. It's being picked apart and the things being cut out of it are the things that would make it possible for the 54.4 million people with disabilities in this country to be part of the engine for recovery, now and into the future.
Item #1: Vocational Rehab $$$. There is 50-70% unemployment in the disability population. ANY percentage of this population that goes to work can only help the country.
Item #2: Medicaid $$ and SSI $$. This pays for the services and the healthcare that adults with disabilities, veterans and elders need to live. Many of the people who get the care they need can then get jobs and contribute (see item #1.) And this money, of course, employs entire industries.
Item #3: IDEA funding. This is so important on so many fronts and it looks like it has been cut already. First of all, it is the tendency of school districts to see the educating of kids with disabilities as a nice thing they do when times are good. This attitude has led to sporadic compliance with education laws around the country with obvious consequences (see item #1.) In the immediate, IDEA funding employs educators and gives SOME incentive for schools to continue to support kids with disabilities in this lean time. And of course, what happens in the schools this year will determine the ability of people with disabilities to contribute to our economy when our children grow up. We can educate our kids now or our (non-disabled) kids can support them when they grow up...
I have been on the phones for the past 2 days. I got through to Sen. Gillibrand's office, but have not been able to reach Sen. Shumer's. I hope people are paying attention to their own senators' behaviors. If you do not like what you see your disability groups should make that very clear to them over the next months.
President Obama has given the disability community the opportunity of visibility, mentioning disability in his speeches on election night, at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial, and in weekly addresses, and more.
It is up to us to turn that visibility into a presence with credence and influence. Try to get through to your senators today (1-800-473-6711) and make appointments at their local offices next week to share yours and your groups' thoughts about disability policy.
I am the mother of three, wife of one. I am a Partners in Policymaking graduate and a committed disability advocate. I want to catch up on my scrapbooking, learn more about art-journaling, get my house in order, read all the books I have set aside to read and change the world--not necessarily in that order. The opinions in this blog are my own and not those of any of employers.