Disability News Service, Resources, Diversity, Americans with Disabilities Act; Local and National.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Creating Justice from Injustice: message from Access Living Center for Independent Living (CIL)

as shared by our colleagues at Access Living ...

Dear Access Living friends and allies,
Justice, in the world of disability, is not an easy thing to win or pursue. The edge of the cliff is not so very far away. Check out these recent developments:
---Remember the case of Ethan Saylor, the young Maryland man with Down Syndrome who died at the hands of off-duty sheriff’s deputies when they tried to forcibly remove him from a movie theater? This month, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin will chair a hearing titled “Law Enforcement Responses to Disabled Americans: Promising Approaches for Protecting Public Safety.” Ethan’s mother, Patti, will testify in an effort to prevent more unnecessary deaths like Ethan’s.
---On a slightly happier note, from the New York Times: “The Justice Department on Tuesday announced a “landmark” agreement with the State of Rhode Island to free people with developmental disabilities from a decades-old system that kept them unjustly segregated in sheltered workshops and adult day programs, removed from the competitive workplace and the broader community. The settlement, which addresses the civil rights of about 3,250 Rhode Island residents, also provides a road map to compliance for the 49 other states, federal officials said. They estimated that across the country, 450,000 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities while away their days in essentially cloistered environments.”
---Returning to less happy news, and possible the most disturbing of all: the effort to pass HR 3717 in Congress continues. HR 3717 is misleadingly named the “Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2013.” HR 3717 would effectively gut mental health protections in America. Furthermore, it would kick the legs out from under the 57 Protection and Advocacy Agencies mandated by Congress to protect the rights of people with disabilities in every state and territory. You will know our Illinois P&A as our awesome partnerEquip for Equality.
I hope that this news is unsettling. We cannot, in fact, assume we are protected just because we have the ADA. Too often, people with disabilities are society’s “canary in the coal mine.” Too often, it takes the loss of life or egregious loss of dignity for society to respond to needed civil rights and social justice for people with disabilities. We need more.
We urge you to help educate our society about how to work and live respectfully with people with disabilities. Help us prevent the death of more “canaries in the coal mine.” Strive for justice. Call your legislators and ask them to fight for us. Support our programs. Listen to people with disabilities when we tell you what we need.
If you are interested in advocating with Access Living, get in touch. Today.
Amber Smock
Director of Advocacy, Access Living


For Access Living, visit:  http://www.accessliving.org/
Address: 115 W Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60654
Phone:(312) 640-2100

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