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A Different Kind of Fireworks: People With Disabilities are Still Fighting for Their Independence

A Different Kind of Fireworks: People With Disabilities are Still Fighting for Their Independence

With Independence Day fast approaching, we know what it means for able bodied's freedom and everything that comes with being an American. But what significance does it have for people with disabilities? With the recent attacks on disability from both the federal and state government, we are in danger of losing our ability to live in the community, losing our choice of where we live with the supports and services we so desperately need.

On the anniversary of the Olmstead decision and the death of Justin Dart, the Senate released their version of Trumpcare. At the same time ADAPT held a Die-In in Senator Mitch McConnell's (R-KY) office. The visual was impressive as people with all kinds of disabilities laid on the floor chanting “Don’t cut our Medicaid”. The next visual was of the Capitol Police taking people out of their wheelchairs, picking them up off the floor, and dragging them away to be arrested. Approximately 40 people with disabilities were arrested that day.
The significance of telling this story is that people with disabilities are still fighting for their independence.

If our community does not come together and make our position clear, we will lose all the headway we have made since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It is the entire community, including the organizations that represent us and who have constructed ideological barriers, who also need to come together. I became disabled prior to the passage of the ADA and I remember very vividly being limited in where I could go and what I could do to participate in my community. I don’t want to go there again and in the year 2017 no one should have to go there again.

Kathy Hoell has been the Executive Director for the Nebraska Statewide Independent Living Council for over twelve years. She is an active and outspoken advocate and a person with a disability. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Behavioral Analysis and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Nebraska-Omaha.