what full inclusion and indepedence for people with disabilities might
look like, so that we can take action to make it a reality for ourselves,
said Duncan Wyeth, who is both the executive director of the Michigan
Commission on Disability Concerns and vice chair of the UCP board of trustees.
We are moving forward, he added, and not allowing external
forces to dis our ability.
In October, UCP released the primer, The State of Disability in America:
An Evaluation of the Disability Experience by the Life Without Limits
Project, a 65-page book that includes chapters on rights, healthcare,
education, employment and housing, as well as personal stories and tips
on organizing for change. Disability rights advocates and trailblazers
also contributed their informed insights to the volume.
Can We Talk?
The last half of the 20th Century was a time of enormous progress for
Americans with disabilities and their families. Despite the improvements,
however, many people with disabilities still face pervasive poverty, joblessness,
forced institutionalization and needless dependency. As a result, they
have less hope for the future than before the passage of the Americans
with Disabilities Act (ADA). Moreover, 17 years after the ADA, advancement
towards first-class citizenship for Americans with disabilities has come
to a virtual standstill.
Unwilling to accept whats not right about disability
in America, UCP initiated Life Without Limits (formerly the Big Sky Project)
led by Tony Coelho, a former congressman and former chairman of the board
of the Epilepsy Foundation of America. The central aim of LWL is to create
a new vision for the future for individuals with disabilities, to increase
public awareness about the challenges that lie ahead, and to develop strategies,
initiatives, programs and policy for a brighter tomorrow.
After we assessed what is yet to be accomplished within the disability
movement, our next step was to hold a series of conversations between
UCP affiliate leadership, staff, families, public policy experts, disability
advocates and corporate leaders. We posed the same questionWhats
Not Right?to these focus groups. We also created a focus
group in a box kit that we sent to hundreds of organizations nationwide,
so they could host sessions and email or fax us back the results.
This way, thousands of people could take part in the conversation. Their
feedback led to the creation of a Custom Forecast Map, developed by the
Institute for the Future (IFTF), of what we anticipate will be future
trends. Over the next decade, we believe these developments not only will
affect people with disabilities, but everyone.
During several visioning sessions last spring, UCP put the map center
stage at an Orlando meeting of 400 key leaders. The event was webcast
to more than 125 sites in the U.S., Europe and Afghanistan. The objective
was to glean what might be the best approaches to achieve the most favorable
Presented by Dr. Bob Johansen, an IFTF distinguished fellow, the session
highlighted the waves of change that will shape the lives of people with
disabilities over the next 10 years. In the process, we came up with not
only new terminology that expands the way in which we talk about disabilities,
but also a glossary that includes our future language.
This language was incorporated into the Custom Forecast Map, which became
the basis for six headline stories. They look at current and
coming scenarios that will help set the agenda for strategy and policy.
X-PeopleIn the near future, for example, people with limited
mobility will be able to put on the HAL-5 exoskeleton suit. Fired by a
15-kilogram bat- tery, it detects muscle movement through electrical signal
flows on the skins surface, and then it ampli- fies them to help
people who have limited mobility climb stairs or lift heavy objects.
Lightweight Infrastructures: In this scenario, a smart device could
reroute around brain and spinal cord damage to help restore lost functions.
Group Economy: Technology can help us belong to communities throughout
the world, network and conduct business, regardless of our physical abilities.
Sense making: A person caring for a friend with a disability or
an elderly relative at a distance, for example, might get a call from
a smart-home refrig- erator, notifying them that it hasnt been opened
Transformational Geography: Centralized call cen- ters with global
reach, for instance, create career opportunities for people with disabilities,
regardless of their mobility level.
Sustainable Communities: As cities grow, urban agriculture could
double to produce more than 30 percent of the food we eat.
Michelle Bishop participated in the visioning session and observed that:
The Life Without Limits Project is an important step for the disability
community, which tends to focus on the past and work reactively.
Bishop, who is the Missouri Disability Vote Project Organizer for Paraquad,
added that LWL can serve as a forum for people with disabilities
to start thinking proactively about what they want to see happen in the
next 10 years, to think about what they as a community want to be and
to figure out how to get there.
This will have different meanings for different people and different organizations.
For UCP and its partners, it encompasses the following six elements
that will likely be relevant to any progressive vision of the future for
people with disabilities:
Believable Hope for the Future
Energy comes from hope
The direction we take must be guid- ed by the human spirit
Navigating the World Across Generations
Use tools to con- nect and include everyone because all ages and
all people need to feel empowered
Form partnerships and alliances that transcend tra- ditional boundaries
such as the generation gap
Access and accommodation for everyone
Aim not just for physical access, but for access to everything
that improves quality of life
Agile, Potent Networks
Link people in multiple networks
Network communities and individuals
Leverage virtual worlds
Create opportunities for everyone to be engaged Use technology
to expand possibilities
Community Not Government
Let government follow initiatives that come out of communities
Go beyond just dividing up the pie
by Armetta Parker additional reporting by Elizabeth Reitz....
continued in ABILITY Magazine
Other articles in the Laura Innes issue include Headlines CVS,
Red Cross, AT&T Foundation; Humor Therapy Its Sad Not
Being Happy; George Covington When Lifes A Blur; Humor Therapy;
Senator Letter Ben Nelson; DRLC Is Your Health Care System
Accessible?; Allen Rucker Thoughts on the Writers Strike; Green
Pages Save Bucks in the Bathroom; Betsy Valnes Sticks and
Stones; Deaf Cruise Partiers of the Caribbean; ChairKrazy
The Marcus Ingram Story; Dr. Hans Keirstead Stem Cell Pioneer;
Richard Pimentel Get A Job (Heres How); ABILITY's Crossword
Puzzle; Events and Conferences...subscribe
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from the Laura Innes issue:
Laura Innes -- Interview
Ricky James Still Zooming Ahead
Hans Keirstead — Stem Cell Pioneer
Call Me Chairkrazy: The Marcus Ingram Story
Will Downing -- Will Power
UCP Life Without Limits
Raytheon Rhodes To Independence
Betsy Valnes Sticks and Stones
Richard Pimental Get A Job (Here's How)