These two photos provide quite a contrast, but I hope that they will make us think and act. On the one hand is the cast of “Born This Way,” a successful TV show about young people with Down syndrome. Last week’s international convention co-hosted by The Arc and Inclusion International had a moving plenary session with the cast. They are inspirational, providing a positive and real image of adults with disabilities.
The other picture is of Alice Wong, founder of the “Disability Visibility Project” and it is compelling as well. The sign says, “I VOTE because… the Medicaid poverty trap needs to end. #cripthevote” People with disabilities come in all shapes, sizes, and economic resources. Along with the cast of “Born This Way,” Alice has some advantages that others don’t. She is carrying a direct message about bias and rights.
As Sarah Kim noted, people with disabilities are “about three times more likely to be sexually abused and to live in poverty, and twice as likely to be unemployed than our non-disabled counterparts. Although the Supreme Court grants us the right to live where we please, 38 states still have special institutions for those with disabilities.”
We want to see more people with disabilities in the mainstream while assisting our family members and friends who often face an economic and resource disadvantage. Do NOT assume adult services are there when you need them. Learn about funding while in school. If you are a professional working with students and their families in the school years, don’t neglect to tell them about the funding realities. Don’t make believe that person-centered planning is all that the student and/or family need to do. Planning is key, but unless the individual has significant personal funds, he or she will have to advocate for the services or the funding as an adult.
Let’s work together to erase the economic and other disadvantages faced by people with disabilities and their families!