By Doug Hall and Nancy Burgess-Hall
Do any of the following reasons for not getting involved sound familiar?
I’m too busy and just don’t have the time right now. I’m busy with work, so I don’t have the time or energy to take on another task. Let someone else do it. I’m just one person, so what I think doesn’t matter. Officials won’t listen to me anyway. I already told someone once and nothing changed. I can’t do anything because I’m blind. Things are fine, so I don’t need any changes. Can you add to this list?
Well, these are all excuses for not being willing to be a responsible citizen!
Thank goodness that past advocates didn’t rely on these and other excuses to avoid being involved. If it weren’t for people who were willing to step out of their comfort zone, we wouldn’t have the NFB, the ACB, and all of their chapters and affiliates.
Where would we be today if advocates hadn’t pushed for passage of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Help America Vote Act, White Cane Laws, Service Animal Access Laws, and similar legislation and regulations?
Without HAVA, we’d still be dependent on the trustworthiness of sighted people to cast our votes for us. If people didn’t advocate for Federal and state legislation to protect the rights of people with disabilities, we could be denied access to housing, education, employment, and many other opportunities and services we have become accustomed to enjoying. Just think – if we aren’t aware of what is happening and aren’t involved in the decision-making process, we could lose some of the rights we have and may well not obtain important advantages in the future.
If you are reading this, I assume that you are somewhat involved by being a member of FCB and at least one of its chapters. How are you involved and what skills have you contributed to your own chapter (sunshine committee, telephone calls, bringing in new members, participating in advocacy activities)?
Now that you have heard the importance of active participation, consider these actions when choosing to become more involved: Listen, watch, and read about local, state, and national issues that may impact your life and others with disabilities. Listen to what politicians are saying and doing. Attend community meetings regarding transportation issues (bus service, sidewalks, pedestrian safety, etc.). Call and/or write your opinions about issues to officials, political representatives, and local newspapers. Offer specific, constructive suggestions. Register to vote and do remember to vote!