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Task Force commemorates Disability Awareness Month

May 31, 2012

As an LGBT organization, the Task Force knows that we can’t advocate for our community without an awareness of intersecting identities that affect the lives of all LGBT people. Race, gender and class are three identities that have been cornerstone of our work since we opened our doors in 1973. HIV status has also played a major role in the way that we have thought about anti-LGBT bias over the years. More recently, we’ve been working to incorporate a broader disability justice lens into our core framework.

At our annual conference, Creating Change, we have been intentionally working to ensure accessibility for people with various disabilities. We dedicate two full pages in our program to “Creating Accessibility” at the conference to inform participants about etiquette and resources. For the last several years, host committee members have led a disability committee and staffed an accessibility table. This has included sign language translation, assisted listening devices, scooters and wheelchairs, large print materials, and designated scent-safe spaces and space in seating and walkways for people who use wheelchairs. All conference management staff and volunteers receive training to assist and answer questions about accessibility. All this is in addition to intentional disability justice training, caucuses, workshops and a designated disability hospitality suite.

Our Public Policy & Government Affairs Department is also working on federal issues that deeply impact people with disabilities. Last November, the Task Force stood with advocates from more than 90 disability, aging, labor, religious and civil rights organizations for the “My Medicaid Matters” rally on Capitol Hill. Because more than 1 in 4 people with disabilities are living in poverty, due to employment and other discrimination, Medicaid and broader healthcare access are crucial issues for the disability community. The LGBT community shares a struggle for healthcare free from discrimination and other barriers to access, which is why the Task Force is fighting for equal access every day.

As Disability Awareness Month wraps up, we want to take this opportunity to reflect on the ways we still need to grow as an organization working to be part of the disability justice movement. However, we also want to send a clear message that the Task Force will continue striving to install disability as a core piece of our mission just as race, gender, class, gender identity and sexual orientation are now.

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