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Issues >> Disability Issues

The Mountain Party
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Jeremy Anthony

Featured Issue:
Disability Issues

I admit to being uncomfortable with the terms "disabled" and "disabilities." The people I have met who are so labeled are people who give to our state in many different ways. Around one in ten West Virginians are considered "disabled." This ten percent includes many of our most creative, active, and generous citizens. There's nothing "disabled" about that.

But West Virginia has not responded adequately to people who face barriers in our society. Our schools do not provide equal access to students. Our buildings are not accessible to all people. We do not provide resources for those who require assistance in their daily lives.

There are several tragedies here. We funnel funds into the nursing home industry, but far less into programs which allow people to live independently in their own homes. Many private buildings are not accessible to wheelchairs, but what is worse, so are many public buildings, including schools.

What is needed is an understanding that all of our citizens are West Virginians with different gifts and different problems. We should ensure that all of our resources are available for all of our citizens. This includes making sure that computer software is accessible to all, that buildings are accessible to all, that everyone has a choice as to the type of health care they prefer, that everyone has the option of an independent living situation in a community.

It also means that West Virginians should not face discrimination in the job market or housing because of health problems or physical challenges. Nor should they be subject to harassment or violence for these reasons.

I believe the State of West Virginia should

refuse to hold meetings in facilities which lack handicapped access.

add disabilities to hate crime legislation.

redirect funding from nursing homes to independent living situations.

work for freedom of choice in health care providers.

discourage discrimination in jobs and housing.

encourage the public and private sectors to include "disabled" people in
all positions.

Most important of all, we should recognize the invaluable contributions made to our communities by people who have turned the challenges they face into strengths, and made our state better for it.

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