Next week we will be in Washington, DC at “Roll on Capitol Hill”. We are traveling to our nation’s capital with the motto “nothing about us without us.” Meaning, if the government or anyone else is going to make policies that affect us, we would like to be involved from the beginning.
This is tricky business because policy-makers are expected to make cuts and save money. But, what they often don’t understand is how some rules or policies negatively affect consumers; costing more money than if they had approved the proper equipment from the start. For instance, when the wheelchair that will actually get you out of your home is denied because it gets you out of your home – sounds confusing and ridiculous doesn’t it? We are going to talk with Congress about such things, as nicely as we can.
On Tuesday, June 26th we are rolling right into the offices of members of Congress! We (UsersFirst, United Spinal and about 60 people who use wheelchairs) will sit face to face with our representatives and tell our stories. That is what they want to hear. That is what will work.
Each day, lobbyists from interest groups far and wide visit Capitol Hill to try and influence legislators. What will be different when we roll through their doors on June 26th? The fact that we are consumers, people with disabilities, not lobbyists, makes the difference. We are not big business, seriously, there is no big business when it comes to wheelchairs, if there was, there would be “wheelchair lobbyists” like pharmaceutical lobbyists and we would not have to write grants and raise money to gather 100 people to go to the Hill regarding issues related to people who use wheelchairs!
Our personal stories are of great genuine value and have the power to influence elected officials far better than any lobbyist. During these visits, your story puts a face to the issues––removing them from stacks of mundane legislative papers to the real life challenges we face daily. If you want your voice heard you can tell your story at http://www.usersfirst.org/submit-your-story/.
This may sound overly ambitious, but all social change this country has ever witnessed has been ignited by proud men and women who have stared down injustice and oppression. Your passion and your voice can be the spark that will ignite long overdue changes for our community.
Every suit in DC can ramble off facts and figures. But that’s not what we are doing. We will be bringing our senators or representatives back down to the real world. Letting them know how you and your family will be affected by cuts to Medicare or Medicaid; or only being able to replace your wheelchair every five years; or being discouraged from getting a job or being unable to find one.
We will not watch American Dream pass us by. It’s time to fight for it.
Sign up and stay connected with this movement at www.usersfirst.org.
You can also join us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/UsersFirstAlliance.
If you want to know more about Roll on Capitol Hill: http://www.unitedspinal.org/events/roll-on-capitol-hill/
Ann Eubank, LMSW, OTR/L, ATP
VP Community Initiatives
UsersFirst, a program of United Spinal Association