Posted October 07, 2013 in LEAP in the News
State Representative Bill Patmon, who represents District 10 in the Ohio House, visited LEAP Aug. 26 and said he identified with LEAP’s mission to promote the equality of people with disabilities.
Patmon met four LEAP advocates, all of whom reside in District 10, and he listened to their views on issues of importance to people with disabilities. LEAP’s Cleveland office is located in Patmon’s district.
During the meeting, Patmon told the group he has a close relative who has autism, and he understands LEAP’s goals. “I look at his talents, while the rest of the world sees his disability,” he said of his relative. “I agree with you 100 percent.”
Grassroots Advocate Donna Prease opened the discussion, stressing the importance of Medicaid expansion for people with disabilities. “When people don’t have insurance and they get sick, they go to the emergency room, and it costs more,” she said. Medicaid expansion would extend coverage to a projected 26,000 uninsured adults in Cuyahoga County, according to Advocates for Ohio’s Future.
Prease, who uses a wheelchair, also discussed how the lack of public transportation options limits the independence of people with disabilities and the elderly. “So much money is spent on roads and highways, and we want policymakers to see that transportation is vital for people with disabilities and the elderly. Without it, we cannot access the community or go to work. And the option we do have is limited -- paratransit cannot cross county lines. My job requires me to go to Columbus and Elyria, and the lack of transportation affects my ability to do my job.”
Self-advocate Greg Stuart, a graduate of both ITT Tech and the Ohio Center for Broadcasting, spoke about the difficulty people with disabilities have in finding appropriate employment. “I am working part time, but not in my field,” he said. “So many employers look at disabilities instead of abilities. We are some of the most dependable, driven people, but we are not given the opportunity to prove that.”
Jane Doherty, human resources, asked Patmon about redevelopment in Ohio City, and mentioned that compliance with the Americans with Disability Act doesn’t necessarily mean that a facility is completely accessible. Barb Thomas, benefits specialist, explained her work, which includes helping people with disabilities learn about how they can obtain employment while retaining various government benefits on which they depend.
“The real issue is how we see people,” Patmon said. “We’re all in the same condition as it relates to life; we all have some kind of disability. We need a different view of people in all their humanity. And for those who don’t get this first point, we need to let them know it’s the law.”