Friday, October 24, 2008

Palin Makes Disability a Very Public National Issue

Well, well, well.

Pittsburgh. This morning, 9 a.m.

VP nominee Sarah Palin finally focused on advocating for people with disabilities. Better late than never.

Palin pledged to make disability advocacy a top priority should she be elected, noting that, in many ways, people with disabilities in the US were still isolated, segregated, and subject to negative bias.

Palin addressed disability issues across the lifespan, from early intervention to providing support for adults with disabilities.

She detailed three specific areas of advocacy:  (a) efforts to reform and refocus current laws and support for people with disabilities, (b) educational choice, and (c) fully funding IDEA and increasing early intervention research and support.

While politicians--all politicians--say many things to get elected and then change their tune once in office, nobody has any idea whether Palin will be the same, no matter what they might predict.

However, I’m not aware of anyone who understands disability issues who could possibly disagree with what she proposed – at least I hope that’s the case.

Because the last time Palin spoke nationally about disability (in her acceptance speech at the Republican convention) her advocacy efforts quickly deteriorated into a (sometimes very nasty) partisan debate, with her critics, many of them within the disability community, deriding her views.

As if one segment of the population has a lock on what disability issues are or should mean.

As if belonging to one party means that you can speak about disability, but if you belong to another you should just shut up.

As if you can only speak about disability when your Down syndrome child is 10 years old so that you’ve had many years to learn about the intricacies of these and other disability issues.

I’m not hopeful, but we’ll know by Monday.

Trust me, we’ll know.

One way or the other.

1 comment:

Terri said...

Just thought I would add my perspective to this: I am one of the parents that tried to let Gov. Palin off the hook on advocacy by saying she was too early in the game. I didn't say this because I doubted her right to speak but because what she had said thus far didn't resonate with me or most of the folks I knew. Experience has been a measuring stick in many areas during this election... for good and bad.