Accessibites – Yes We Can! A disabled activist’s hopes

Published Date
24/04/2009
Author
Reason Digital
Category
Trailblazers

With the USA’s new President fast approaching his first 100 days in office, Alan Holdsworth, a disabled activist, recently wrote (in the hour after the election among a wave of optimism) of his hopes “that President Obama could transform the lives of disabled Americans.”

Holdsworth, noted that McCain (being a war hero) is a disabled person as a result of torture, but much research left him stumped as to how McCain would “advance the rights and opportunities for disabled people.” He struggled to find anything of significance in McCain and Palin websites and speeches, and that’s why he believes disabled people voted for Obama. Adding Obama’s policies were much easier to find and more specific of what for a great while now many disabled activists have been waiting for.

President Obama was a thorough supporter of the Community Choice Act that “would force all states to provide independent living services,” and other acts for  disabled people. On an international level, most notably, Obama has pledged to sign the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and pledged to strengthen the benchmark Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as well as provide full funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. This guarantees “equality and inclusion in education and investment in early years education for disabled children in mainstream settings,” something that Americans do excellently (more so than the British), and something that your writer has experienced first hand having lived there for over ten years.

Most importantly, Obama has plans to have healthcare include and protect people with pre-existing conditions, which many disabled Americans  have been really wanting. A brilliant thing indeed for disabled Americans because that means that they’d be on an equal turf of what almost every other country has already, a national (universal) healthcare system for its citizens, and make one of the richest (if not the richest) countries fix their private healthcare system. The privatisation of their insane healthcare system really harms and causes a lot pain to disabled Americans and needs to be changed right away, especially for those with pre-existing conditions. Trust me.

Mr. Holdsworth concludes by saying there is a real chance to become a revered part of the world community once again and reestablish that reputation as a leader. Moreover, he says he is “a convert to his (Barack Obama’s) politics of hope. But as an activist, and lifelong sceptic, myself and others will be keeping a close eye on the tangible results of his first year as President of the USA.”

All in all, America has always been at the forefront of the world for rights and opportunities of disabled people and has been quite a “disability friendly” society since the start of the Civil Rights Movement of Dr. Martin Luther King in the nineteen-sixties, but still could do more for the disabled community. The United States has generally been seen as beacon of light that hopefully President Obama can improve and share some success of the disabled rights movement with the rest of us.

We here in the UK need to takes lessons from America and many other smaller European countries because all the policies are already in place for the UK to be a fantastic place to live for disabled people, but that is if we as society stop being a “shark without teeth” and force politicians to actually take action to change for the better for all.

Find out more information about ‘great expectations.’

By Sulaiman Khan

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