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Laws to advance the lives of People with Disabilities

I’m not going to bore the reader with a laundry list of laws and regulations or interpretations that I have seen developed, fought for, and passed, implemented, and sometimes ignored.  I have personal knowledge of several laws when they were in the “ideas on paper stage” and that doesn’t make me special it just makes me interested and old.  So, let’s get right down to what I would like to see now. 

All children’s toys must come with a volume control—what? Yes, if there can be a law that we can’t remove a tag from a mattress then we can have a “volume” law for children’s’ toys too… and while we’re at it let’s consider the following practical laws that might lead to systems change.

1.     All licensing exams must include disability rights related questions and scenarios.  If this were the case doctor’s lawyers, carpenters, teachers, plumbers etc. would all learn at least some minimal amount related to disability and those folks who teach those would-be workers would also need to have the knowledge base to make sure students pass the tests. 

2.     Governmental or taxpayer supported entities should get access to resources based upon the extent to which people receiving services become a full participant in their community.  This participation measure could be broken down into work, social/community, and any third category that the consumer of those services decided to pick. What I’m getting at here is we need high expectations and broad meanings of a successful life. 

3.     No spitting your gum on the ground –blind people hate stepping in someone’s gum. (Comic relief, but not that funny).

4.     Medicare and Medicaid Laws need to be restricted to pay for healthcare only.   Funds need to be set aside for wheelchairs repairs and replacement etc. but it shouldn’t take a doctor’s note or a needs analysis to fix a flat tire which it often does now.

5.     Finally—because 5 laws are a big enough legislative agenda for my first term as emperor. People with disabilities who receive SSI or SSDI benefits should be allowed to earn as much money as they can in order to make disability a common and expected thing in the workforce.  I would state that the folks earning over the median income should be asked to produce a short story on how to become successful so that others could use their efforts as a road map.

I’m sort of a libertarian so that’s all.

Born legally blind, Jim Whalen has worked in various functions including in State Government and at the University setting and is very passionate about the law.