My experience at this year’s Disability Policy Seminar was very good, just to see people come together for a very good time. It is very good just to sit and learn and listen about all the discussions and things going on across the country. Being in DC is also very good. I look forward to going each year. It is a very good experience for anyone who has never been there.
What did I learn? I learned that it is good for people with disabilities to come together from all over the country to be able to talk about the issues. My favorite speaker was Andy Imparato, Senior Policy and Disability Policy Director. He was very good. It was also good to see a lot of self-advocates there. On Tuesday, there was a meet and greet with just the self-advocates, so we could talk about the issues affecting each state. Other states are talking about employment, just like Indiana.
On Wednesday, we had a day on Capitol Hill, meeting with legislators. The group I was with met with the offices of Senator Coats, Representative Carson and Representative Bucshon. It was good to be there and talk to their staff. We talked about Social Security, Medicaid, the ABLE Act (something to help people with disabilities and their families save money for the future), employment, and more. It was really good to talk with them. We told them about how the issues affect people with disabilities.
It felt awesome to be able to walk around Capitol Hill and meet with staff. It is important for us—especially as people with disabilities—to talk and tell our stories and how we feel about the issues affecting us in Indiana. I look forward to going every year.
If you weren’t able to be there, you need to go someday. But if you can’t go, you can still talk to your Indiana legislators—write them, call them, visit them in their local office. You don’t have to go to DC to have your voice be heard. Need help contacting your legislator? Visit http://district.iga.in.gov/DistrictLookup/ to find out who they are. And you can always call me to help, 317-977-2375.
Our voice counts, whether you are in Indiana or visiting DC.
Melody Cooper is Self-Advocates of Indiana’s President & The Arc of Indiana Employment Advocate.