DRC Advocacy Platform: Meeting the Moment & Growing the Movement

DRC Advocacy Platform:
Meeting the Moment
& Growing the Movement

The COVID-19 pandemic radically changed our lives over the course of mere weeks.  The government response and the economic devastation that followed the pandemic have exposed deep flaws in our systems that disproportionately harm Californians with disabilities, including:

  • Unsafe, segregated, institutional care for older adults and disabled people;
  • High rates of unemployment and underemployment among people with disabilities;
  •  Long standing inequities in healthcare, mental health services, housing and education for disabled people, especially those who are part of the Black, Latino, Native American, Asian Pacific Islander, immigrant, and LGBTQIA2S+1 communities;
  • Government programs and private businesses that discriminate against disabled people and refuse to ensure physical and communication accessibility for all;
  • A lack of affordable, accessible, healthy, and stable housing that is integrated into all communities; and
  • An underpaid direct support workforce, a digital divide, and a growing wealth gap.

The pandemic has also highlighted structural problems in our healthcare, housing, and justice systems that have led to disproportionate harm to California’s Black, Latino, Native American, and Asian Pacific Islander communities in the past several months.  In order to be effective advocates for all Californians with disabilities, we must address systemic racism, ableism, homophobia, sexism, and structural barriers that deny us equal access to services, systems, and legal protections that all people deserve and require. Moving forward in this moment, DRC will be proactive in ensuring that our advocacy seeks out and responds to the voices of people of color with disabilities and members of the LGBTQIA2S+ community with disabilities.

 

DRC’s Commitment & Accountability to the Movement

As California works to address the pandemic, the economic downturn, and social unrest around racial justice, DRC will hold itself accountable for bold, progressive advocacy that pushes society toward more inclusion, equality and full participation for all people by:

  1. Reaching out to and deepening our engagement with California’s diverse disability leaders and growing the capacity of disability-led and family-led organizations in our state; and
  2. Amplifying the work of civil rights activists who fight for dignity and equality for Black, Latino, Native American, Asian Pacific Islander, immigrant, and LGBTQIA2S+ communities, and for people with disabilities who are members of these communities.
 

Actions that DRC Will Take

DRC will push for equal opportunities, physical and communication access in housing, physical and mental healthcare, education, voting, and employment for ALL people with disabilities by advocating for:

  1. Safe, affordable, and individually accessible housing that includes services for communication accessibility, physical and mental health, addiction, job re-entry, accommodations in shelters and permanent housing, with the goal of preventing homelessness;
  2. Services and supports for unhoused people that are responsive and accessible to each individual’s needs;
  3. Freedom from abuse and neglect for people with disabilities and older adults;
  4. Stronger support for community integration through expanded access to Medi-Cal services and community-based mental healthcare;
  5. Inclusive education that prepares children and youth with disabilities for independent living, higher education, and employment opportunities in the competitive labor market;
  6. Individually accessible polling locations, and barrier free voting for disabled people, including people living in institutions;
  7. Affirmative action, reasonable accommodations, vocational education and training, and opportunities for internships and work experience that promote professional development and career advancement without discrimination and stigma;
  8. Equitable access to government benefits, and modernized approaches to disability benefits that do not punish people for working or saving money;
  9. Policies that reduce or eliminate negative law enforcement interactions with people with disabilities;
  10. Educating people with disabilities about their legal rights so they can advocate for themselves or another person; and
  11. Improved emergency preparedness and response policies and practices that protect the health, safety, and dignity of California’s disability community and older adults during disasters.
 

Independence and Self-determination

DRC will advocate for expressed interest, self-determination, and independence for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities through:

  1. Expanded access to In-Home Supportive Services, Social Security disability benefits, and regional center services;
  2. Equitable funding of regional center services for Black, Latino, Native American and Asian Pacific Islander consumers with developmental disabilities and their families; and
  3. Protecting home and community-based services from budget cuts during the economic downturn caused by the pandemic.
 

Language Access and Culturally Responsive Services

DRC will advocate for language accessibility and cultural literacy in information and services to achieve a more inclusive society by:

  1. Ending systematic discrimination against Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Blind, Low Vision, or Deaf-Blind people who have been denied the accommodations they need for effective communication, such as interpreters, staff fluent in American Sign Language (ASL), captioning, audio description, braille, large print, other accessible formats, as well as other communication tools and methods for people who are not fluent in ASL;
  2.  Providing information and services for people who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Blind or Deaf-Blind in languages and formats they can understand and in a manner that supports full participation; and
  3. Advocating for information and services that are culturally and disability competent and delivered in the recipient’s preferred language, including American Sign Language or other forms of communication.
 

Robust Community-based Mental Health Services

DRC will secure services in the community to help people with mental health disabilities avoid state hospitals and incarceration by advocating for:

  1. Enhanced intensive community-based mental health services that are provided in a manner that is trauma-informed, culturally congruent and responsive in order to address racial and ethnic disparities in accessing community-based mental health care;
  2. Physical and communication access to self-advocacy tools and peer support;
  3. Diverting funds from law enforcement, jails, and institutions and investing in community-based mental health and social welfare services; and
  4. Timely discharge of people living in state hospitals and placement in appropriate programs to support successful transition to living in the community.
 

Advocacy Recognizing the Whole Person:  Disability, Race, Ethnicity, Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation

DRC will expand the impact of our work by advocating for people with disabilities through an intersectional2 identity lens by:

  1. Addressing longstanding discrimination and systemic racism in the criminal legal system, housing, education, public benefits, and healthcare that disproportionately harms Black, Latino, and Native American people with disabilities;
  2. Advocating for equitable supports and services for people of color with disabilities to improve health, educational, and employment outcomes;
  3. Ending the exclusion of disabled people from supports and services based on immigration status;
  4. Advocating to end abusive practices in jails, juvenile halls, and detention centers, which disproportionately harm Black and Latino people with disabilities; and
  5. Opposing dehumanizing hate speech and acts of violence against Black, Latino, Native American, Asian Pacific Islander, and LGBTQIA2S+ people with disabilities.

 

 

1 Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and/or Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, Two-Spirit and any other self-identity of choice. – (Return to main document)

2 “Intersectional”, here describes interconnected social categorizations such as race, disability, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, that results in that person or group experiencing overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage. – (Return to main document)