By LISA TARRICONE (July 8, 2009)
Thank you to Esther Gueft for her poignant June 24 Community View, “The minority that includes all minorities: the disabled.” As co-chair of a local disability advocacy organization, I couldn’t agree more with Ms. Gueft’s overall view that persons with disabilities continue to face “huge obstacles” achieving their fundamental right to full inclusion within all areas of their communities.
This July 26 will mark the anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act, which was signed into law to expand legal protections for people with disabilities while opening opportunities for their full participation in community life. However, despite its passage 19 years ago, the disability community has yet to be fully integrated and accepted within all segments of society.
We need to hear more voices such as Ms. Gueft’s addressing the across-the-board discrimination people with disabilities face obtaining affordable and accessible housing; full access to public buildings and services; employment; an equitable education; adequate public transportation; and options for community-based supports that prevent unnecessary institutionalization. In addition, we also need to challenge court decisions that strip the civil rights protections for people with disabilities, which reset legal precedent for guaranteeing their freedom, independence and choice as was promised under the ADA almost two decades ago.
The writer is director, Systems Advocacy/Westchester Independent Living Center, and co-chair, Westchester Disability Advocacy Partnership.
Director, Systems Advocacy
Westchester Independent Living Center
White Plains, NY 10601
914.682.3926 ext 2112(office)