For most of my career, some 47 years, I have been a disability rights advocate. This charge was instilled in me as a youngster when I would witness how some people treated my cousin Carrie, who happened to have Downs Syndrome. She was often made fun of by other kids, and had limited opportunities, certainly far less than most of us had growing up in the blue collared town of McKees Rocks, PA.
Over the many years that followed my graduation from college, we disability rights advocates saw many gains unfold. In the 70's we had "Right to Education," Housing, Transportation, and Vocational gains. Through the 80's and 90's we pushed for broader civil rights and were able to pass the "American's With Disabilities Act," (ADA). Know that all of these efforts, while not creating a true parity, were gains nonetheless.
Along with these regulatory changes came some funding; never really enough, but still helpful in the effort. In a country as wealthy, and as abundant as the United States, there is no reason that people with disabilities, some 60 million Americans, should be denied the right to opportunity.
But as our country has made a strong right turn in attitude as witnessed by our last election, and now with a president who lost the popular vote, but somehow seems to think he has a mandate, we know that the strides made in disability rights (and most other important cultural issues) are now at risk of being changed, de-funded, or eliminated altogether.
It is time we now come together to protect the many critical human strides we have made, and to safeguard that all people have opportunities to live the American dream. Hubert Humphry, the respected Senator from Minnesota, and presidential candidate once said, "the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children, those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly, and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy, and the handicapped."