COMMITMENT AND HEART = MAKING A DIFFERENCE
The Citizens Coalition for Equal Access (CC=A), based in Farmington, Connecticut, illustrates what a difference a grassroots effort can make in the lives of others – in this case, the disabled community. Driven by the desire to serve this community, members of CC=A share their time and talents. They come from all walks of life and include both able-bodied and disabled individuals.
Commenting on the organization’s mission, Ruth said, “In my work over the last 25 years, I have come to realize that people with disabilities are the largest minority in the United States and are mostly invisible to or misunderstood by the larger society. We advocate not just for the disabled but with the disabled so we can better understand their needs. From heavy doors that are impossible to open from a wheelchair to the lack of accessible scales and examining tables in doctors’ offices, people with disabilities face daily challenges in doing simple things that able-bodied people take for granted.”
Challenges in getting medical services for his now-deceased wife, who was wheelchair-bound, spurred Jay Tulin, Government Liaison for CC=A, to become an outspoken advocate for persons with disabilities. “There were many times when my wife could not access a doctor’s office because her wheelchair would not fit through the door. Using a public bathroom often presented the same challenges, Jay explained. “Working with CC=A has given me the opportunity to effect some change that will benefit a population that deserves so much more than society realizes. It is my hope that in the not too distant future, things like better training regarding disabilities for medical professionals and equal physical access for individuals with disabilities will be the norm,” he added.
Ensuring safe and easy physical access for the people with disabilities in his community prompted Len Pursell, AAADM’s President and Code and Compliance Manager for Stanley Access Technologies to get involved with CC=A. “When I heard about CC=A’s efforts to get automatic doors installed at US post offices in Farmington, I saw an opportunity to help in a very concrete way,” said Len, who regularly attends CC=A meetings to stay abreast of its needs and challenges.
The power of grassroots organizations to effect change comes from individual members and their willingness to dedicate their time and efforts on behalf of others. Protecting and enhancing the rights of the disabled community demands nothing less. CC=A and its members epitomize such dedication.
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