Excellent stuff by Del. Candi King (D-HD02)…cross posted from her website. Also, great work by VA Young Democrats Disability Caucus Chair Michael Angeloni, who worked with Del. King in putting this together!
Virginia Can Be the #1 Place in America For People with Disabilities
I believe we can make Virginia the best place in the country for persons living with disabilities. We just need to focus more on the ABLE part of the disabled.
According to the CDC, over 61 million Americans are living with some form of disability. I know from my own experience that for families supporting a disabled loved one, resources and access to necessary services can be life-changing or life-limiting.
But I am inspired to see the many advances in states that have provided inclusive support to families and individuals. Through the hard work of advocates and community leaders, states have reformed their thinking and laws to provide more significant support for people living with disabilities. The evidence of this is the high ranking of states that provide economic opportunities, improved livability of cities and towns, affordability of housing, and access to health care and insurance to those living with disabilities.
I know the challenges families caring for a disabled child or extended family member face day in and day out. That is why I want to ensure that District 2 and the Commonwealth of Virginia move up in our national ranking for the best places to live for people with disabilities.
We all should be concerned that every resident of our district gets access to the support and resources they need. When those individuals in our community are supported, we all reap the benefits of a vibrant and cohesive society where everyone can contribute to the best of their abilities. But how do we ensure that Virginia gets the most of its citizens? How do we ensure that our communities and Commonwealth benefit from more of its citizens’ varying skills and talents?
How do we get there?
I believe that our communities and institutions often focus on a child or person’s disability and not their ability to contribute to society in different ways. When more of our community members feel supported, we all benefit from the new skills, jobs, businesses, and creativity they can provide to improve the quality of life for all. We have the opportunity to rethink our systems and, for once, focus on the abilities of our citizens in helping us achieve our goal of making Virginia a safe and prosperous place for all. Let us endeavor to take that one step further by making Virginia one of the best places to live for disabled Americans and their families, by 2026.
- Reduce Medicaid waiver lists by increasing funding and making the application process less complicated. Too many families are spending decades on waiting lists for waivers and services that they desperately need.
- Streamline waiver processes. The processes to even get on ID and DD waiver lists are too complicated. We need to create an online process that better incorporates medical and educational documentation that already exists versus requiring families to undergo unnecessary additional testing.
- Create incentives for higher education institutions and businesses to create more programming for our disabled population. This will allow our business community to allow greater access to diverse employment opportunities for our disabled citizens.
- Focus on the criminalization of Black girls with disabilities. Create a taskforce with community, education, and subject matter experts specifically designed to reduce the criminalization of Black girls with disabilities in schools and in our community.
- Develop inclusive and convenient mass transit plans. Invest in public transportation that is not only accessible for those with physical disabilities, but also convenient and sensory awareness.
- Focus on rare diseases. Increase funding pools to create support and educational programs specifically for rare diseases that lead to better access to services. Create a Rare Disease Advisory Council.
- Plan and fund more affordable housing for the disabled community. Our current housing capacity, cost, and diversity are failing the needs of the disabled community. All Virginians, regardless of their ability deserve safe and affordable housing that meets their overall needs.
I believe that these efforts are not at all complicated, and I believe that every child or disabled adult should have every opportunity for education and training to live as independently as possible and so that our communities can benefit from their skills and talents. It is time we place much more value on their lives and their contributions.
I invite you to join me and my campaign to ensure that our District and the Commonwealth of Virginia become one of the best places to live in our country for those living with disabilities. This issue deserves our attention, and those citizens deserve increased opportunities to realize their full potential.