by Vilissa K. Thompson, LMSW
Ramp Your Voice! is a new organization created to fill the gap in how disability advocacy currently exists in America. Ramp Your Voice! seeks to ensure that minorities with disabilities have a place at the table when disability issues and life experiences are discussed and shared. The establishment of Ramp Your Voice! aligns with my macro social work ambitions of sharing and educating the public about the barriers, issues, challenges, and progress of people with disabilities.
Numbers Don’t Lie
Failure to recognize minorities with disabilities in the disability rights advocacy movement is unacceptable, given that there are more minorities with disabilities in America aged 21-64 than those of European descent. According to Disability Statistics data collection for 2011, there were over 37.3 million individuals in America with some form of a disability. Of that number, only 10.3% of individuals aged 21-64 identified as white/Caucasian, compared to 54.1% who identified as being a member of a minority group or of some other race.
The Danger of Ignoring the Voices of Minorities with Disabilities
Allowing minorities with disabilities to remain invisible within both the subgroup and society is truly disempowering, and can no longer be the standard. In order for society to truly understand the necessary changes needed to improve the quality of life for people with disabilities, the stories and voices of minorities with disabilities has to be prominent in the movement. Minorities with disabilities have just as much to contribute in the fight for equality as their white counterparts. Having this unique focus in promoting self-advocacy among minorities with disabilities is what sets Ramp Your Voice! apart from other disability advocacy organizations.
Why Ramp Your Voice! Matters
My hope for Ramp Your Voice! is to share the stories and voices of ALL people with disabilities, regardless of their ethnic background. Ramp Your Voice! will be a game changer in making this happen. Empowering minorities with disabilities hits home for me since I am a proud woman of color with a disability. I aim to share my own life story with those who have a vested interest in learning what it is like to live with a disability. Becoming a consultant on disability rights issues is another means for me to become a prominent spokesperson in the disability movement.
I realized that I could not wait for someone to approach me about sharing my knowledge and experiences. Instead, I have taken action in creating my own opportunity to share my story, and provide a platform for others to do the same.
How You Can Become a Part of the Ramp Your Voice! Disability Advocacy Movement
If you or someone you know would be interested in sharing his or her life experiences as a person with a disability, please review the “Calling All Self-Advocates and Allies” page on the website. Interested persons and organizations may contact me via email, ([email protected]), or through the website’s contact page. I am eager to write about individuals, as well as organizations working hard to improve the quality of life of those in the disability community.
If you want to support to this new movement in disability advocacy, visit the website, spread the word to others, and follow me on my Facebook Fan Page, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.
I am prepared to “ramp” my voice for change; what are you willing to do?
You must be the change you wish to see in the world.
– Mahatma Gandhi