The 2020 elections are around the corner and I believe it is time for people with disabilities to step up and craft the messages we want to hear from candidates. It is our responsibility to demand that talking points are not always about us being “vulnerable”. We should want to hear about their positions on creating opportunity for things like:
- Home and Community Based Services,
- Affordable, accessible, integrated housing
- Meaningful employee
- Equal pay
- Full access to transportation
The question is, how do we accomplish this? Here are some ideas we are trying in Montana:
- Partner with other advocacy groups to develop a common agenda. We have formed Montana Disability Voices. This is a cross-disability, non-partisan group of advocates focusing on candidate and voter education of issues related to the disability community.
- Ask your Congressmen and Senators to hold a listening session to discuss not just problems, but address solutions and ideas of how to influence change. This can take time to accomplish. I have been “pleasantly persistent” for almost 3 years and recently was able to get one of Montana’s US Senators to agree to sit down with members of the disability community
- Approach candidates for statewide about forming an advisory group on disability comprised of people with disabilities. Remind them that 20% of the population identify as having a disability and we are waiting to hear solutions to our issues discussed in a public forum. I currently have 1 candidate for Governor who has agreed to do this.
Let me know what you are trying in your area to craft a message of community living, inclusion and disability pride.
Written by Joel Peden, Montana Independent Living Project