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Santa Clara County Creates Office of Disability Affairs to Improve Accessibility

At the beginning of the pandemic, Michele Mashburn noticed that he was operating a pink electric wheelchair around the Covid-19 test site, which was blocking the only wheelchair-accessible entrance in his medical center.

She was worried about the increased risk of getting sick, interweaving crowded areas with people suspected of having a respiratory infection. Mashburn, director of the San Jose Peace Justice Center and the Greens of Santa Clara County Councilor, lost his choice and eventually filed a federal complaint on the matter.

Instead of changing the layout of the test site a few weeks later, she was surprised at about the same time her complaint was marked “solved” when the organizers set off with their luggage packed together.

As the worst of the pandemic recedes, Mashburn is one of those who are trying to push another mission, especially elected officials, education and business leaders accepting the reopening of the region in search of “normality”. Therefore, we are asking the government to reassess how access for persons with disabilities is considered.

“In the early days of the pandemic, telecommuting accommodation was what people with disabilities wanted for 30 years and couldn’t do it until it affected everyone in the room,” says Mashburn. .. “We are in this position again and the disabled community will be left behind. Now is a great opportunity to gain institutional power for the community of people with disabilities.”

History repetition

That institutional power shift may be on the way.

On Tuesday, the Santa Clara County Supervisory Board approved the establishment of a disability bureau within the county’s Department of Fairness and Social Justice. The sector already houses LGBTQ community, women’s policy and immigration staff. A stronger plan for the office, including financing, office layout, oversight and accountability components, and outreach planning, is to return to the board for a vote on September 28th.

Approximately 31 years after the Americans with Disabilities Act was enacted, supervisor Cindy Chavez found that South Bay citizens with disabilities had medical, civil access, financial opportunities, education, and overall quality of life. Proposed to secure funding for dedicated staff to address the gap. Accountability and advisory boards can help guide the long-term community engagement process. County staff will work with the disabled community this summer to set priorities and goals for the public, private and non-profit sectors.

Earlier this month, more than 70 people with disabilities, parents, health care providers, seniors and other supporters gathered at Zoom to have a personal experience, following the framework of “nothing about us without us.” , Shared hopes and concerns.

“All of these hoops and loops in my life come together to make this goo crucible, so even those born as disabled may understand the complexity of what I handle. You may not understand, “says Mashburn. “No.’Will I encounter barriers today?’ It’s” how many barriers are there and which derails me? “

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in four adults (61 million) in the United States has a disability. Mashburn believes that statistics can underestimate people with diabetes, ADHD, depression, and others whose “internalized discrimination against persons with disabilities” prevents them from being identified as disabled.

“Doing the right thing is one thing, but doing the right thing is a whole different level of commitment to others, and that’s about it,” says Chavez. “The hallmark of such an office is that it creates an opportunity to normalize these changes as they occur and make them part of our structure as a community.”

Suit up

Chavez hopes Santa Clara County will become a model for other parts of South Bay, improving the health and safety of people with disabilities in dealing with law enforcement, economic instability and access to housing. It states that there is.

Mashburn welcomes more accountability, as proceedings are often the only means of enforcement, except for written complaint letters.

“ADA was supposed to be a starting point for making more changes,” says Mashburn. “It has made a big difference, but it puts a strain on people with disabilities to crack down on the system.”

Most people do not file proceedings because of confusion and lack of payment, she added.

Few governments collect statistics on people with disabilities, but some of the data points available depict an ugly situation.

People with disabilities are twice as likely to live in poverty in the United States, with more than 33% likely to experience food instability. This is due to lack of education and the impact of job discrimination on income capacity. In 2019, 27% of Americans with disabilities lived in poverty. This is defined as $ 25,750 for a family of four.

In addition, law enforcement has stopped disproportionately to the disabled community, regardless of whether people have autism, asthma, deafness, or untreated mental health, according to a Ruderman Family Foundation study. And are exercising power.

According to the data, most of these disparities are more serious for women with disabilities and people of color. This also applies to Genesis Bayan, a ninth grader at Gunderson High School with Down Syndrome.

Although Bayan’s physical and cognitive deficits result from one of the most common chromosomal conditions, his mother, Dinoranives, has a daughter as another classmate due to language barriers and inadequate writing within the San Jose Unified School District. He says he has been behind for years and cannot read ABC. Or interact with others.

Nives says she usually loves coloring and dancing, but is more depressed during the pandemic.She was left to her device, following lessons that she couldn’t understand without appointments for treatment and a professional education plan.

Especially after learning the accessibility of other Caucasian English-speaking parents, she said she had obstacles in trying to ensure accountability for her daughter’s education and reputation by the new Department of Disability. I hope it helps to fight.

“I’m frustrated,” said Nibez, translated through Veronica Guzman, the founder of Yo Soy Tu Voz. “We don’t have access to them. We have to fight, we have to sit there, we have to call every day, we have to demand something that is easy to provide. It’s a simple mistake. “

Santa Clara County Creates Office of Disability Affairs to Improve Accessibility Source link Santa Clara County Creates Office of Disability Affairs to Improve Accessibility

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