Tag Archives: Minnesota State Council on Disabilities

Disability Rights March and Rally July 26

Live not for Battles Won/ Live not for The-End-of-the-Song/
Live in the along. ~  
Gwendolyn Brooks

A generation ago, on July 26, 1990, President George H. W.Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act.  Next Wednesday, July 26, Minnesotans who continue to struggle for the cause will gather at the State Capitol for the Disability Rights March and Rally. Advocates will celebrate the positive impact of federal legislation even as they let it be known that the struggle continues. (http://www.disability.state.mn.us/2017/06/02/disability-rights-march-rally/)  They will be coming together in a political and digital reality very different from that day of triumph in 27 years ago.

Clearly, this month’s March and Rally have great accomplishments to herald; signs of progress in implementation of the ADA are so commonplace as to be taken for granted.  As a refresher, take time to view this blog post created by a few creative souls determined to give voice to women with disabilities in the January 2017 Women’s March.  https://disabilitymarch.com

Today we live and breathe, study, work and play in a digital world.  As the possibilities for people with disabilities expand exponentially institutions of every sort, from mighty  bureaucracies to the faith community – struggle to seize the moment.  What’s happening on the institutional front – including plans still waiting on the digital launch pad – pushes the boundaries that were but a gleam in the eye of ADA advocates a generation ago.

For those who are immersed in meeting the challenge this is chance to capitalize on progress, to prove the power of collaboration, to share the word of what’s possible.  Organizations and institutions – small businesses, nonprofits, legislators themselves – may be unaware of the wealth of resources. The Rally offers an opening to share stories of digital possibilities.  This is chance to demonstrate the amazing tools of digital access, starting with the mega toolkit created by the Minnesota State Council on Disabilities. (http://www.disability.state.mn.us/digital-accessibility/). The challenge is to share a vision of dynamic intellectual participation that was a rare possibility “back in the day”

Equally important, as the nation is led to question the fundamental right to vote, the rights of people with disabilities are a concern to legislators as well as every voter.  This post might resonate with elected officials motivated to act in light of the March. https://marytreacy.wordpress.com/2016/08/12/sharing-the-right-to-vote-the-right-the-reason-some-resources/

Emcee of the July 26 March and Rally is Kristen Jorenby, Director of the Center for Accessibility Resources (CAR) at Metropolitan State University. (http://www.metrostate.edu/student/student-services-support/student-services/center-for-accessibility-resources

In a pre-Rally interview Jorenby underscored the urgency of the July 26 Disability Rights March and Rally:

Given the current political climate, the community is really concerned about cuts to healthcare, their ability to remain independent and cuts to transportation funding. We have problems within the system that continue to exist. The ADA is a huge civil rights act. And this [event] is really a chance for people to celebrate that and reassert that they have this civil right, and they are not going to let them be taken away.”

If you’re walking down the right path and you’re willing to keep walking, eventually you’ll make progress ~ Barack Obama




Milestones Mark Impact of Major Federal Legislation

An earlier post offered an intro to the plans for commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (https://marytreacy.wordpress.com/category/disability-issues/) There are scores of activities planned for the ADA’s “silver anniversary”, many – certainly not all – are mentioned in that post. One state event that seems particularly inclusive and experiential is the family day set for July 26, sponsored by the Minnesota Historical Society and the Minnesota State Council on Disabilities. There will be free admission to the Minnesota History Center for all, live music, dancing, film/video and more with ASL interpreters, audio describers, deaf/blind interpreters and open captioning. More at http://www.minnesotahistorycenter.org/accessibility.

Since that post I have come across several thoughtful and informative posts about ADA, including great information in the most recent issue of Access Press, now free and accessible to all. (Note the location of Access Press newsstands and resolve to read it regularly – if the newspaper isn’t handy, find out how to make this essential resource more accessible in your community.) Also since that post I came across a lovely editorial piece on “the beauty of the Americans with Disabilities Act” posted by Susan Henderson, Executive Director of the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund. It’s a good read and reminder: https://usodep.blogs.govdelivery.com/2015/07/10/the-beauty-of-the-americans-with-disabilities-act/

By interesting coincidence, July also marks the 50th anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid, officially signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson on July 30, 1965. Today there are more than 54 million people enrolled in Medicare. In fact, there is a good deal of overlap between these two major federal programs. For example, in 1973 disability coverage under Medicare was introduced for people under 65 with long-term disabilities. Significantly, both ADA and Medicare represent the culmination of political “movements” – both represent federal action with profound and permanent impact on virtually every individual, family and institution.

As with ADA, recognitions and celebrations of Medicare/Medicaid are popping up everywhere – in health care facilities, senior centers, places of worship and more:

For armchair celebrants there are great online tools.

  • The January 29 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine carried a thorough and illuminating history of “Medicare at 50 – Origins and Evolution.” http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMhpr1411701. It’s everything you ever wanted to know about the legislation and didn’t even know to ask. The article is worthy of serious study and discussion, particularly in light of ongoing political forces and fomentations.
  • Earlier this month the New York Times Editorial Board published a helpful discussion of Medicare and Medicaid, with up-to-date information re. the relationship with the Affordable Care Act. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/03/opinion/medicare-and-medicaid-at-50.html?_r=0
  • The Henry J. Kaiser Foundation offers a history of the road to Medicare – of particular interest, perhaps, to those who’ve lived that history. http://kff.org/medicaid/report/medicaid-at-50/
  • Kaiser Family Foundation has also updated a video that traces the evolution of the legislation over the past half-century.
  • The Center for Medicare Advocacy has published a powerful resource entitled “Medicare Matters: 50 Insights for Medicare’s 50th Anniversary” http://www.medicareadvocacy.org/50-insights-for-medicares-50th-anniversary/ The informative narrative offers a great review of the powerful impact of Medicare.   Implicit is the parallel impact of recently passed federal legislation.

At the other end of the mobility continuum the Minnesota Nurses Association is sponsoring a Medicare 50th Birthday BBQ Bash on Thursday, July 30, 5-9 p.m. at Highland Park Picnic Shelter, 1227 Montreal Avenue in St. Paul.  It’s free and open to all who want to celebrate the life and legacy of Medicare. Check with MNA at 651 414 2800.

Finally, if you happen to be in DC on Saturday, August 1, fill your water bottle and join the Healthcare Justice March, 10:00-Noon at Potomac Park on the National Mall. The National Nurses United and the Labor Campaign for Single-Payer Healthcare are joining forces to commemorate Medicare at 50. More at https://www.facebook.com/events/1571769846-427625,

Too often there is a disconnect between the public and political negotiations inside the Beltway. Both ADA and Medicare/Medicaid are powerful examples of what happens when the body politic and its representatives communicate and create together. Reflecting on the past half century of systemic change reminds us how political and social forces shape the daily lives of everyone. It’s worth the effort to reflect on examples of how the system did, should – and could – work to create institutions that serve the lives of every American.

Update:  http://www.commondreams.org/news/2015/07/24/ada-25-years-after-landmark-civil-rights-law-some-wonder-wheres-equality