Today I went to The Big Crafty here in Asheville. It was such a great event for the extremely talented Asheville art community to share what they do with the community they live in. I did really enjoy it, but unfortunately there was one huge thing overlooked that was really bothering me the entire time I was there. Some of vendors had booths that were inaccessible to people living with physical disabilties. As I looked around I noticed the large amount of people using wheelchairs, walkers, and canes and I was really bothered that these people would not have the freedom to explore all the options available to them.
People Living with Disabilties(PLD) are extremely susceptible to depression due to isolation and when an event like this or of any kind is not all inclusive by being aware of this is contributing to the isolation this community feels. While I do not think this was purposeful act of the disregard of awareness of the PLD it is something that we as a community need to strive to remember because the damage to a PLD’s independence in this case is not one of just physical, but mental as well.
Tomorrow is the holiday July 4th, so called “independence day”, a fact which has had me wanting to talk about independence and what it means to everyone. Independence.
Tomorrow we will all gather to celebrate Independence Day in the year 2017. What does the word independence mean in the world right now? As a person with a disability this word is associated with getting assistance with things I cannot do because of my disability, but that meaning is not the same for everyone. To people of color it could mean having the freedom to go somewhere without the fear of racially fueled occurrences. For an immigrant it could mean not having to be in constant fear of being torn away from their families. For a person who is part of the LBGTQ community it could mean feeling safe to use the bathroom they feel comfortable using. For women it could mean to feel confident that their gynecological care is available to them. And for the poor to feel they live in a country that will give them opportunities if they work hard no matter what their race, gender, sexual preference or ability is. We are Americans. We all deserve our independence and must fight however we can to get it. That is the most patriotic thing we can do. Happy Independence Day, here’s to a future america where all are truly independent!
Today I read what my friend, Jewel Sanchez, had to do to get her home healthcare. She was able to gain enough independence to move out of her mom’s house and move into her own place with her boyfriend. Great, right? Well because her mother no longer will be there to assist her in her daily life, including her bowel care, bathing and dressing, she needs more hours from a caregiver. Medicaid in Florida denied her request. She was in fact being punished for gaining independence and discouraged from being able to live on her own.
The whole point of Medicaid and Medicare paying for things like doctors, medication, home care, therapy, assistive devices like wheelchairs, and more is to support the independence of People Living with Disabilities so they can live as their able-bodied peers do. Despite the great amount of frustration Jewel must have felt she kept persisting for her rights as Person Living with Disabilities and won.
It is already hard for People Living with Disabilities to get what they need. Already persistence is necessary to get what we need to live. It truly is a battle and and without this persistence we are not able get what we need. So it easy to see how the current danger looming over healthcare makes our community feel so very threatened. This is one of the many reasons why it is so important to call you representatives and say NO. We want decent fair healthcare for everyone and it’s your job to make that happen!!!