My Olmstead Rights movement and media
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On December 21st, this brief article appeared on the ADA.gov website. It’s a little cryptic, but it states that the Department of Justice has removed a guidance document. The document was on State and local governments’ employment service systems related to the ADA and the Olmstead ruling. In a nutshell: It was a guide help agencies follow the ADA and Olmstead ruling and provide support to disabled people in the least restrictive environment. It’s gone now, or I’d link to it. That guidance document was released by the Department of Justice on October 31, 2016. Just over one year ago.
The ADA.gov article claims that laws will continue to be enforced fully and fairly. They just took down the guidance document to talk over some technical details. Yeah, right. Talk technical specs while it’s up. If you have revisions, do what the rest of us do: Upload the revised document to replace the old one. I smell a truck load of rats. Because taking it down sends the message to the public that it’s not an important document, an important ruling, or something that has standards to follow. So, the rats?
First, the ADA and the Olmstead Ruling have unequivocally not be enforced fully and fairly across the country before or after the document was released. None of the disability rights legislation pieces have. If they were, I would not have faced discrimination by American Airlines when they violated multiple parts of the Air Carrier Access Act. If they were, the ACLU would not have published this story of routine, ongoing discrimination from teachers against Tory, a young black boy with learning disabilities and TBI. If they were, 2010 data in New York State would not have shown 14.5% of nursing home residents are under 65. If they were, D/deaf and Hard-of-Hearing people in jail and prison would not be so pervasively denied telecommunications (or accommodations so that they can participate in their own bookings, hearings, and mandatory programs inside).
It has always been important to consider people with disabilities as the full humans that we are, both in the way that you act and on the deepest levels of your subconscious thoughts, the ones that rise to the surface without you realizing it. Legislation has certainly helped some people secure some legal rights in some situations, especially if you have financial resources to start with. But laws and rulings have absolutely never encouraged or help us reach social acceptance and equity (because secretly, the ways disabled people are viewed by most of society is still as sub-par and sub-standard semi-people).
Laws and rulings have not done anything to resolve the issues that being Black and disabled puts you at substantially higher risk of going into the school-to-prison pipeline or being brutalized or killed by police. The thing to note is that for decades, more legislation was being passed to protect the rights of disabled people, and now the opposite is true. Attacks on Medicaid and Medicare, removing website accessibility guidelines, and removing documents around ADA and Olmstead are clear steps to openly promote the eugenics ideals that disabled people are considered not fully human and are, therefore, expendable. I’m a Jew with disabilities, and I have family members chronic illness. I cannot explain the depths of my disgust for and fear of eugenics. I also cannot stress the privilege that I have that allow me to sit here in my own home and write this, audio record it, and pay for the website hosting so it’s out there.
“Emily Wolinsky founded My Olmstead Rights in September of 2017 after her in-home attendant care services were threatened by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. She vowed to do whatever it takes to educate people with disabilities around the United States on their Olmstead Rights and help people obtain the resources and services they require to stay in their homes and out of nursing facilities.”
I sincerely encourage you to visit the website and the Facebook page @MyOlmsteadRights. Share your stories with the #IChooseMyHome on social media. Spend time on their social media to learn more about these pervasive injustices. We have to stay informed so we can continue to fight. This is not about becoming disability friendly. This is a fight, and it always has been.