Mark E. Seifarth
Every two years we elect U.S. House Members and one-third of the U.S. Senate. Every two years we elect legislators in our states all across this country.
Every four years we elect and inaugurate the President of our United States. Today is that day.
Here’s a Presidential Inaugural Day thought or two by way of comparison.
In many ways our great and diverse country is not unlike the great and diverse disability community. We are all different and yet we all work toward common goals as well.
One of the first things I learned when I began working on disability policy and public policy almost 40 years ago is the only disability I can speak about is my own. I can talk about being a person with Cerebral Palsy. We all work together so all persons with disabilities can speak for themselves and we can move forward for full inclusion in employment, our communities and our lives as equals with all our fellow Americans.
But, perhaps there are other questions to contemplate today.
Part of the reason that we as a varied United States and a varied disability community come together is because we all have work to be done. Employment work; Access work; Community work; Reasonable Accommodation work; Equality & Equity work;
So is not Inauguration Day a time to ponder the work? The work as a country we have done and the work yet to be accomplished.
The question for our elected officials, our disability community, our advocates, our neighbors, our friends is can you do the work? Will you do the work?
I think we all want to work toward goals to improve ourselves, our communities, our country. That takes effort, commitment, and yes, work.
One can ask the question and perhaps should ask the question periodically, have our elected officials done the work? Have we done the work?
Have we increased access to health care for those with no or limited access?
Have we improved Medicaid so that people can stay healthy and out of unnecessary and expensive hospital stays?
Have we examined Medicare so that our seniors and others so we can stay healthy and continue to contribute in our communities?
Have our states and our federal government worked together and not just tried to foist the responsibility on each other without resulting in a better use of scare resources?
I could go on and on…
And I realize we are in a time of a once in a century pandemic that has taken up much of the available resources. But again, have our federal, state, and local governments worked together during a time of unprecedented need?
I raise all this on Inauguration day to look to our history and look to our future.
Our great country has worked together through depression/recession, world wars, unrest, and now a pandemic. The disability community has worked together through the Rehabilitation Act, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), ADA Amendments, and so many others so we have equal access, equity, and equality.
I submit for your consideration: Have we done the work in the past four years? Have we tried to do the work in the past four years?
With that examination, I will conclude with the much more difficult questions.
Can we move forward together? With all our grand diversity, and our chosen spiritual guidance, are we prepared to support each other as we agree and disagree? Are we ready for the work ahead?
What is each of us ready to do to empower ourselves, educate our elected officials, and do the work?