Every year we try to measure results of a few key questions.
How have we done as an advocacy agency? How is our state performing in terms of advancing opportunities for those with disabilities and their families? How does our country compare?
But sometimes, these measures fall short of capturing the true distance between our vision and the outcomes in our everyday lives, whether we have a disability or not. There are many factors that affect how all children or adults realize their vision, including our family of origin and all that goes with it such as race, culture, composition, and much more. The family’s financial condition, its close community of relatives and friends, and the local school or government entities also affect the doorway to opportunity.
There is a very indefinable factor too – something about each of us which drives us, regardless of differing abilities, to succeed, and there are even some who can show that spark without needing words. The same can be said for the family members who drive for the best outcomes.
Perhaps we can’t make up for the indefinable “something,” but we can pay attention to financial need, discrimination, and other obvious barriers and biases.
As we measure our advances for all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, let’s take stock of unequal access, too.
Whether national waiting lists for services (approaching half a million people) or limited access to assistive technology for communication, mobility, and independence, we should, as a community, try to address the unequal access among us.
Educator Horace Mann said, “Doing nothing for others is the undoing of ourselves.” The Arc’s mission is one that aims to assist our entire community.
Leo V. Sarkissian