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By: Jo Ann Simons
We recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” Speech. The entire nation took a moment and paused to remember and reflect on the dream. We can all agree that while much remains to be done, much has been achieved. The majority of Americans have no knowledge of the time when blacks encountered “Colored Only” signs. We have a black President and our leaders have asked us to have a serious and national conversation about race. We have been told it is “about time”.
For someone who remembers and was moved by the words of Dr. King, I was led towards a life of action and social justice. I was sure we could have a more just and inclusive society.
I invite the national conversation on race but I wonder why there hasn’t been a similar cry to have a national conversation about disability? Why is disability still on the margins of serious debate in our country?
The disparities among people of color are great but the disparities of people with disabilities are greater in all meaningful measure of a quality life.
Persons with disabilities have the lowest health status of any group in the world.
Persons with disabilities have the lowest access to post-secondary education.
Persons with disabilities are the poorest of Americans.
Persons with disabilities remain underemployed, unemployed, poor and sick.
Where is the outrage? Where is the call for a national conversation about disability?
Jo Ann Simons is a Disability Advisor to the Ruderman Family Foundation and President and CEO of the Cardinal Cushing Centers