What is Disability Rights?

  1. Black History Month 2017: Donald Galloway, Disabled Social Worker Who Fought for Inclusion

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    Image of two disabled men strolling and rolling down an outdoor pathway. Man on the left is Donald Galloway, tall Black man with an afro with a guide dog by his side. Man on the right is Ed Roberts, white man who is in a wheelchair. Both men are facing the direction of the camera while in mid-stroll/roll.  Photo credit:  Ken Okuno.  

    For my last feature for Black History Month, I will spotlight the life of Donald Galloway, a man who was not hesitant to take on authorities when it came to the inclusion of disabled people.  Donald’s story resonated with me because he was a social worker like myself, and in reading his advocacy legacy, fighting for justice and inclusion is the call we answer as helping professionals.  As with many of the Black disabled social workers I know, our involvement in this movement is a unique mixture of ramping our voices while fulfilling the ethical duty we have as professionals.  Donald was no exception to this, and I felt that as we are nearing the end of Black History Month and about to begin Social Work Month (which is in March), telling his story will bridge the two worlds I am proud to be a part of.  

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  1. Black History Month 2017: Brad Lomax, Disabled Black Panther

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    Image of 2 Black men outside wearing suits. Brad is on the left in his wheelchair and Greg is on the right crouching down. Both men are smiling for the camera.

    One Black disabled advocate from the past I have enjoyed writing about is Brad Lomax, who was a member of the Black Panther Party (BPP).  One of the reasons Brad’s story and involvement resonates with me is because of him confirming his unapologetic Blackness and disability.  He was a proud member of BPP and used his participation to urge the Party to become a part of a major time in disability rights history – demanding the passage of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act in 1973.

    I want to take a different angle in discussing Brad by focusing on the impact of the activism that led to the enactment of Section 504, and why Brad’s advocacy matters.  

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  1. Black History Month 2017: Remembering Joyce Jackson, Black, Disabled, & Phenomenal

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    Image of Joyce shown smiling, walking down the wide sidewalk in an Oct 20 t-shirt, with a large crowd of people with balloons and signs behind her. She is holding up the right side of a big banner that says "FULL RIGHTS FOR DISABLED PEOPLE -- IMPLEMENT 504."

    Image of Joyce shown smiling, walking down the wide sidewalk in an Oct 20 t-shirt, with a large crowd of people with balloons and signs behind her. She is holding up the right side of a big banner that says “FULL RIGHTS FOR DISABLED PEOPLE — IMPLEMENT 504.”

    For Black History Month 2017, I will feature the names, faces, and voices of Black disabled people who were a part of the influential advocacy efforts made during the heart of the Disability Rights Movement.  As I have stated on the blog, the erasure of Black disabled people from disability history is profound, and the same offenses are committed when we discuss Black history.  Taking action to correct these wrongs is a steadfast passion of my advocacy; these stories must be told so that Black disabled people will have disabled historical figures to look up to and be proud of.

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  1. ADA Generation: Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (Part 1)

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    It was 25 years ago today that one of the most influential, life-changing disability policies was signed into law, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  For those who were born during the 80s and 90s, disabled Millennials also known as ADA Generation, it is hard to phantom living in a world without this mandate that guarantees our rights to equal access to education, healthcare, transportation; as well as necessary accommodations and accessibility in utilizing services and resources in our communities.

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  1. Blog Action Day 2014: Inequality & Disability

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    Blog Action Day 2014 - Inequality

    This is the second year I have had the Ramp Your Voice! blog participate in Blog Action Day.  (Last year’s theme was about human rights.)  This year’s theme revolves around inequality, and this theme undeniably fits into the focus of RYV!  On the blog, I have written countless articles about inequality as it relates to disability, from difficulty accessing health care services; how we are viewed by society as less than and second class individuals; and the misconceptions surrounding our sexuality and the effects those ideals have on us and our ability to relate to others.

    For #BAD2014, I decided to take the approach of providing a brief rundown of the most common barriers people with disabilities are subjected to that unfairly disadvantage us.  Though I am certain that my readers are familiar with some (if not all) of these issues, I wanted to provide a mini overview for those who may find this article in the Blog Action Day tags online.

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  1. Rock the Disabled Vote in South Carolina!

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    Photo with the text, Rock the Disabled Vote.  Image has the disability symbol holding up signs, spelling out the word "vote."

    2014 is a midterm election year, and it is imperative for South Carolinians with disabilities to rock the disabled vote!  Voting is our civil right in this country, and you should not be prevented to exercise this right simply because you have a disability.  I grew up in a household where politics was discussed, and I saw my beloved Grandmother rock her vote each election year.  Due to her example, I have been a registered voter since I turned 18, and have voted in every election since.  Needless to say, I will be exercising my right to vote on Tuesday, July 10th, 2014 for the South Carolina Primary, and on Tuesday, November 4th, 2014 for the General Election.

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  1. The ADA, Service Animals, & Places of Business: Know Your Rights!

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    The summer season means that people with disabilities will be exploring public venues within and outside of their communities.  If you use a service animal, your lifeline to independence and safety, may not be welcomed by certain businesses.  It is imperative to know your rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in order to identify and report discrimination you may experience at such venues.

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  1. The Call for Congress to Pass the ABLE Act

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    The ABLE Act has the potential to improve the financial and employability statuses of people with disabilities in this country, if enacted.  The Achieve a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act gained the attention of the disability community when it was first introduced into Congress on February 13, 2013.  The ABLE Act was not decided on last year due to the fact that the Congressional session ended before the bill could be considered; however, it has the support of over 400 co-sponsors in the House and Senate.  Having such a large amount of support gives many disability advocates, including yours truly, great hope that the Act will be considered and passed this year.

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  1. Recognizing National Disability Employment Awareness Month

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    On September 30, 2013, President Barack Obama issued a proclamation declaring October 2013 as National Disability Employment Awareness Month.  In his proclamation, the President urged employers and those in hiring positions to seek out individuals with disabilities to participate in our workforce and contribute their unique gifts and talents to our society.

    According to the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Disability Employment Policy’s website, as of September 2013, only 20.9% of people with disabilities in America were active participants in the American labor force; those without disabilities made up 68.8% of the labor force.  The overall unemployment rate in America for September 2013 was 6.8%; the unemployment rate of people with disabilities, however, was 13.1%.  With people with disabilities making up such a small percentage of the workforce and yet a very high percentage of unemployment when compared to their able-bodied counterparts, this puts the population at an incredible disadvantage socially, financially, educationally, mentally, and hinders their ability to become independent members in society.

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