Suggested Government Actions in Relation to People with Disabilities
Synopsis: People with Disabilities in America continuing to experience poverty, lack of appropriate housing, transportation, or inclusion in the educational process.1
Author: Thomas C. Weiss Contact: Disabled World
Main DigestThe United States of America has some very real issues to deal with where People with Disabilities are concerned. These issues include more than this one article can possibly approach. The issues approached in this article include Poverty, Housing, Transportation and Education.
The issues mentioned have been present in America for generations and the time to deal with them is now. Why now? The U.S. Government has been spending billions of dollars on war or, 'military efforts,' and has failed to approach these issues to a satisfactory, rights-based degree. The result is People with Disabilities in the wealthiest nation on Earth continuing to experience poverty, a lack of appropriate housing, transportation, or inclusion in this nation's educational process.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as well as the as-yet-to-be-ratified Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) have not been adequate to ensure even basic human rights where People with Disabilities are concerned; quite plainly so. American Politicians, the ones who are responsible for lawmaking in this nation, have failed to ensure that People with Disabilities have appropriate housing, education, incomes, and transportation. People with Disabilities in America oftentimes find ourselves living in housing that is not accessible, on incomes that would make a politician run for their lives, with inadequate access to transportation. The last time I checked there was precious little exposure to Disability History or Culture in America's public schools, leading to the continued lack of awareness regarding our population.
Chart showing some disability issues
Disability and Poverty in America
Each day in America, politicians spend more for a trip than most people on SSI receive to live on for the entire month. These politicians spend more on a suit for a meeting than people on SSDI have to live on for a month. The cost to support a single politician in America could support several people who experience forms of disabilities in America for an entire year. The costs related to unused, 'parked,' military hardware could keep the Social Security Administration up and running for quite some time.
I suggest the U.S. Government, even if it sold unused and parked military hardware for scrap metal, could support incredible changes in the way People with Disabilities in America live. Reclaimed metal and other recycled materials from outdated and unused military programs could support this population in every single one of the areas mentioned. The government would find itself in a far better position to dictate to other countries about their human rights records and People with Disabilities would have adequate housing, incomes, education and transportation.
The U.S. Government also needs to demand that every single employer in America with more than 50 employees hire a minimum of 15% of their employees from the population of People with Disabilities in this nation. We are America's largest minority population and have a right to equal participation. Yet there is a pervasive and incorrect impression among the employers in America , one that says People with Disabilities make poor employees. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
The U.S. Government needs to increase the amount of individual SSI and SSDI payments made to People with Disabilities in America. The current rates are keeping the nation's largest minority population in enforced poverty, something that is against human rights, as well as the CRPD. Keeping People with Disabilities living in poverty also prevents anyone from taking the government seriously when it points fingers at other nation's human rights records. The increase in the amounts of SSI and SSDI checks needs to reflect the actual cost of living not the supposed, 'COLA.'
Disability and Housing in America
As a person with disabilities I have personally lived in apartments that had no excuse to be called, 'accessible.' Even though some of these apartments managed to be within my financial range, the apartments themselves , despite being advertised as being accessible, were anything but. In large cities like Seattle, apartment buildings are aging rather badly. Other buildings are newer, but the cost of rent associated with newer apartments is so high that a person on SSDI cannot possibly afford them.
What to do about this awful situation? The U.S. Government needs to greatly expand the Section 8 housing program, ensuring that the number of housing units available through the program meets the numbers of People with Disabilities in America and our needs. At this time in America, participating in the Section 8 housing program is like trying to win the lottery. The politicians of this nation do not seem to care, they are eating steak, lobster cocktails, and riding around in snazzy cars at taxpayer expense.
The politicians of America must pass legislation related to housing, legislation requiring 1st floor apartments across the nation to be made accessible and available to people with physical disabilities. The apartments must be made available for a percentage of a person's income. At this time in America, People with Disabilities find themselves forced to remain with family members, friends, or to group together just to make financial ends meet. We have a right to live independently, with an adequate standard of living.
Disability and Transportation in America
Chart showing suggested solutions to some disability issues
The year 2014 in America finds People with Disabilities still struggling to access transportation they need to get to doctor's appointments or the grocery store, let alone a job if they are fortunate enough to find one. Imagine for a moment that you experience a physical disability such as Multiple Sclerosis or Cerebral Palsy. You need to visit your doctor's office to receive medical care you require, but you have to wait on a list in order to get a van to take you to your doctor.
Many public transportation outfits in America are truly struggling, something else the government does not seem to be too concerned about. Who is concerned about transportation? Google! They have been working with self-driving cars; one can hope these cars are accessible. Where is the funding for public transportation? For this nation's politicians, winning the next election seems to be far more important. Personally, I do not vote for politicians who have little to no concern about the population I am a part of.
Federal and State government needs to fund van transportation for people who experience forms of disabilities. The same U.S. Government needs to fund transit passes for people who experience disabilities who can still ride the bus. Funding for community organized transportation pools must be put in place, if only so we can go to the store and visit the doctor's office.
Disability and Education in America
One of the reasons there is so little attention paid to People with Disabilities in America is due to a lack of disability awareness. The lack of disability awareness is due, in part, to the neglect of Disability History and Culture courses in public education. Non-disabled Americans have little idea of who we are as a population.
Another reason it is easy for people to ignore those of us who experience disabilities in America is because schools are not as inclusive as they need to be. 'Public school,' needs to mean public school; everyone attends , disability or not. As a population, People with Disabilities have been essentially, 'hidden,' from public view for so long now that it is easy to ignore us. Equal participation needs to be just that. While awareness on the part of the general public is changing, it is changing at an unacceptable pace.
It is time for Community Colleges to be just that, Community Colleges. These colleges must be funded in the same way public schools are and public schools must receive more funding. The politicians of America must pass legislation to fund Community Colleges, including for People with Disabilities. It is time for America to invest in Americans, People with Disabilities included.
As a person with disabilities the utter privilege experienced by the politicians of America never ceases to amaze me. So much value is placed on do-nothing politicians who enjoy everything from the best incomes and housing to the finest transportation and education, all at taxpayer expense. Yet these politicians complain about $175,000 a year incomes; give me that amount to do little or nothing and I would retire.
The same politicians do not hesitate to involve America in yet another, 'military conflict,' spending billions of dollars to fight, 'terrorism.' They holler about the threat these terrorists present, declare everyone to be a potential threat, lock down the nation through the TSA, NSA and more. Yet these politicians are just fine with allowing the abuse of People with Disabilities to persist, making me question whether or not the politicians of America are worth their keep. It is well past time for the politicians of this nation to focus on ensuring People with Disabilities have an adequate standard of living and stop violating us.
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