As an organization led by people with disabilities, we are deeply concerned about the governor’s recommendation to reopen all South Carolina’s public schools in the fall. While he does suggest that students and families have the option to choose between virtual or in-person schooling, there are many flaws in this vague directive that puts the lives of people with disabilities—including disabled parents, students, and teachers—at risk.
Teachers and school personnel who have a disability (including underlying health conditions) need to be protected, but seem to be given no choice in the matter. Under the governor’s recommendation, they would have to attend school five days a week. Not only is this dangerous to the teachers themselves, but it is also putting hundreds of students and the students’ families in danger. We cannot protect students in our schools if we are not protecting teachers and school personnel.
At Able SC, we are people with disabilities for #BlackLivesMatter. In fact, our communities are not separate at all. Based on Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) data, Black people are the most likely ethnicity/race to have a disability. Regardless of disability – all Black lives matter.
As a disability rights organization, we pledge to continue to challenge systemic racism whenever we see it, and work towards a future where ALL people are respected and treated equitably. We are committed to making sure that our own workplace culture is as anti-racist as possible. That means we are doing a lot of listening, learning and reflecting during this time. We stand (or sit) in solidarity.
Able SC in the strongest way possible discourages disability simulation exercises and instead promotes interaction with persons with disabilities, as it is more effective at building disability pride and cultivating awareness, inclusion, and true understanding.
The lives of every person are equally valuable, and every measure must be taken to prevent the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on any marginalized group including those with disabilities. Inappropriate application of medical rationing and triaging out individuals with disabilities is unacceptable, abhorrent, and damaging to the fiber of diverse communities. While COVID-19 poses a serious strain on resources, Able South Carolina reminds all decision-makers of their duty to uphold the civil and human rights of people with disabilities no matter the context.
As a Center for Independent Living that is grounded in the disability rights movement and run and operated by a majority of individuals with disabilities, we are united in the belief that community-based, integrated employment for individuals with all types of disabilities should be the only option when it comes to employment. Individuals with disabilities CAN work and should have the freedom, support, and opportunity to achieve competitive, integrated employment. We advocate for systems where funding for employment programs shift away from sheltered workshops and other non-competitive employment and move towards a system that promotes equal employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities, regardless of the severity of the disability.