Written by Nancy McClellan-Hickey
Advocacy is bringing your issue up in the order of others’ priorities. A lot of what we do in our advocacy is educate. John Q Public doesn’t have a lot of experience with disability, in fact if they do have experience with one disability, they don’t with another. To advocate is to educate first.
PACE with many other CILs and organizations across the country brings all disabilities together to unite and consolidate their impact. Did you know Disability is the largest minority? Step one of advocacy is vote. If we would all turn out to vote, theoretically, we would also have the largest impact on our legislators.
Seniors are wise and know this and their vote is impacting. Legislators know to listen to seniors’ concerns. The disability vote has been a sleeping giant. We have untapped power. We need to encourage all people who have and understand the needs of pwds to vote. Influence is there for the taking. How many people with disabilities are aware of this? Many seniors are also people with disabilities, however we find that a lot of seniors who have hearing, arthritis and vision disabilities don’t consider themselves to be people who have disabilities- until it is pointed out. It enters their life slowly and sometimes the full effect is not fully realized though dealt with.. Many of us will experience a disability ourselves or through someone we love. This is a social issue that impacts not just “them” but us.
Each of us can help wake the sleeping giant and tap into the power of unity. Vote, educate, advocate and bring your issues to decision making tables by joining boards, advisories, speaking out at forums and talking to other pwds about the sleeping giant. We have been changing the world for the past few decades, we began to organize and access has slowly appeared since the 70’s after watching the black community organize in the 60’s. Now let’s wake and finish taking our place in our country’s’ priorities.