It's been an exciting week! We are just over a week into Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. We had "Spread the Word to End the Word" Day on Wednesday, to spread awareness about how hurtful the words "retard" and "retarded" can be and to encourage people to sign a pledge to eliminate these words from their vocabulary. And today, March 8, is International Women's Day - I'm going to be celebrating all the amazing women in my life, disabled and non-disabled, and American women can feel good that the contentious Violence Against Women Act was finally made law this week. But don't go giving American Congress too big a pat on the back though, in this week of celebrating developmentally disabled women and their achievements and their right to living in safety. Because we're also one week into the Sequester, and that's nothing to celebrate.
Sorry. I Know You're As Sick Of Hearing About the Sequester As I Am
I'm Canadian and CNN's been out all week in my apartment and I'm *still* tired of hearing about the Sequester.
I'm tired of hearing about how the Sequester was designed to be so terrible that it was never supposed to happen...and yet it did.
I'm tired of hearing politicians from both parties blame the other party for letting the Sequester happen.
I'm especially tired of hearing of hearing how devastating its effects will be for military.
I'm tired of hearing almost nothing about how the cuts will affect education and social services, as if they're unimportant.
So I did some research of my own on the Sequester.
The Sequester and Disabled People
I found these predictions about how the Sequester will affect disabled Americans:
- A $600 million cut to special education will bring service back to 2005 levels. Up to 15 000 special education teachers and 7200 aides will lose their jobs, and the Individuals with Disabilities Act will be cut by a billion dollars. http://www.ncd.gov/newsroom/022813
- $1.9 billion cuts to housing assistance will increase homelessness rates. http://www.ncd.gov/newsroom/022813
- $160 billion in cuts to vocational services will put disabled people on longer waiting lists for services. http://www.ncd.gov/newsroom/022813 The unemployment rate for disabled people is almost twice the rate that it is for non-disabled people and rising as the rate for non-disabled people is falling. http://www.ncd.gov/newsroom/022813
- Programs not being directly cut, such as SSDI and Veteran's Administration, will be run with less staff and forced to "curtail services to the public", putting people already as risk of poverty at greater risk. The across-the-board 2%-per-year cuts to Medicare will also affect service to the public. http://www.ncd.gov/newsroom/022813 http://www.kdrv.com/sequester-cuts-affect-disability-checks/
See 12 - 22 in this article to read more about the Sequestor cuts to social services and education: http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/OTUS/57-terrible-consequences-sequester/story?id=18551994
After Mitt Romney's recent appearance on Fox News Sunday, where he stated that he'd lost the election because of his campaign's failure to connect with minorities, I went back to the transcripts of the National Forum on Disability Issues in September. I'd wanted to point out that he'd missed an opportunity to connect with a sizable minority that day by not attending - and, after reading the transcript, remembered that both he and Obama had sent representatives (admittedly not as good as showing up, but there were other Members of Congress that actually did show up).
It's frustrating to see that all the lofty ideals that came out the speeches at that conference, when it comes down to arguing about the money, basically meant nothing...for the same reason that it makes me angry when I hear Tammy Duckworth's or Gabby Giffords political colleagues talk about them being "amazing" or "inspiring" (beyond my knee-jerk negative response to "disabled" and "inspiring" being used in the same sentence): Democrats don't have a problem with using a disabled person to bolster their "We're good people, look at us including disabled people" image...just don't ask them to provide the supports to get them them there, apparently.
And the Republican party? That's a blog for another day.
But Enough about the Sequester...In the Spirit of the Week...
1. Please go make the world a bit of a better place today and, if you haven't already, head over to r-word.org and sign the pledge not to use "retard" or "retarded" anymore.
2. Look up some of these amazing people. They've got developmental disabilities and they're taking the world by storm:
- Dr. Janice Brunstrom
- Marlee Matlin
- Alexis Wineman
- Chris Burke
- John Cougar Mellancamp
3. Go hug a woman that's important to you and tell her how glad you are that she's in your life.
4. Watch for my articles on http://ollibean.com/. I'm a writer there now. :)
Have a great weekend!