Thursday, May 17, 2007

A powerful week

This week I went to the Illinois state capital, Springfield, for the Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities in Illinois (CCDI) annual Disability Rights Conference. There were a variety of workshops on a number of topics such as disability myths (making the comparison of ableism with racism and sexism), disability law, particularly as it applies to employment, and disability bioethics (discussing Ashley X and state futility laws, such as the Texas one being applied to baby Emilio).

I was awarded the Markeeta Award, an award for a youth in Illinois pursuing social justice and disability advocacy. It is named after the first recipient of the award, Markeeta Vincer, who fought successfully to be included in the Chicago Public School System.

I learned about an important bill, HB 1256, that has passed the Illinois House and is currently going through the Illinois Senate. If you live in Illinois, I urge you to call or email your state senator and ask him or her to support this bill. House Bill 1256 is very important for people with disabilities who have the ability to work, but not necessarily full-time. I see this bill as being very important for me personally and to many others with disabilities and stamina issues.
Here's some information from CCDI on the bill:

"-Lack of access to affordable health care forces people with disabilities to work for less or not at all. The current program does not go far enough.
-House Bill 1256 allows people with disabilities to work more often or accept better paying jobs and would allow people with disabilities to earn up to $35,000 (instead of the current $20,000) while paying their share of Medicaid costs.
-House Bill 1256 would allow people with disabilities to accumulate assets to alleviate poverty and promote their independence and self-sufficiency without jeopardizing their health care coverage"

I "rubbed elbows" at the conference with other advocates that I'd heard about - Diane Coleman and Stephen Drake from Not Dead Yet, Mike Ervin, FRIDA advocates, and ADAPT advocates. (I felt like a bit of a groupie.) I had many interesting conversations and an enjoyable time in Springfield.


Blue / Kay Olson said...

Sounds like a great event. Congratulations on the award! You deserve it.

And thanks for the info on the bill. That law would indeed help many people by making a job financially worth the effort, which is really the minimum anyone asks in a job.

Ruth said...

My congratulations on your award. Legislation for programs like the one you describe are a great step forward as a recognition toward newer and improved services for pwd that are in step with our needs. Just think- with experiences like this and networking like this, you'll be drafting proposals for new laws and programs that are on the cutting edge for years to come as an advocate:)

David said...

Thanks so much Kay and Ruth.