by Guest Writer Virginia Wisdom-Belford
Disability rights is a feminist issue. It is an issue that affects many women, either personally or through friends or family.
NOW's Disability Rights Committee met recently in Washington, D.C., to map out a three-year action plan. And we want to hear from you.
Our goal is to raise consciousness within NOW and throughout the public concerning women and disabilities. For example, the committee will make specific recommendations for making all NOW functions -- from the national conference to grass-roots local program meetings -- more user-friendly for people with disabilities.
The committee is chaired by Joanne Tosti-Vasey of Bellefonte, Penn., who says she became politicized in 1989 while parking her handicapped-stickered van in the handicapped space by her doctor's office. She was confronted by an angry non-disabled cleaning person who demanded that Tosti-Vasey get out of "her" parking place.
Other committee members include: Theresa Bergen of Nyack, N.Y., Mary Dorsey of Arlington, Va., Barbara Mattson of Spartenburg, S.C., Stephanie Ortoleva of Indianapolis, Lisa Small of Arlington, Va., Susan Turner of Somers, N.Y. and me, Virginia Wisdom-Belford, of Naperville, Ill.
Each of us brings a specific expertise to the group, such as issues concerning the hearing impaired, violence against women with disabilities, high-tech communication within the disability community, lesbian rights, legal issues, activism and training around disability rights, chronic illnesses and single-payer health care.
We'll share more information with you in future issues and we hope you will be in contact with us, too. Your correspondence can be forwarded to the committee through the National NOW Times at 1000 16th Street, N.W., Suite 700, Washington, D.C. 20036.