On Saturday January 21, 2017, Disability Rights Mississippi’s (DRMS) Executive Director Ann Maclaine spoke to the approximately 2000 people assembled for the Women’s March in downtown Jackson MS.
Participants organized for varying concerns and represented those groups that already feel marginalized and anxious about the future, and Ann reminded those in attendance that people with disabilities are everywhere, and potentially everyone, and that they have rights that must be recognized and upheld for a fully functioning community. We still have a long way to go.
She noted that many of the laws protecting the rights of people with disabilities, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and the Fair Housing Act are federal laws, enforced by federal agencies, and that we must all remain vigilant that the civil rights established by those laws are not weakened or ignored.
Turning to state level issues, she stressed the right of students with disabilities to a free, appropriate PUBLIC education, and encouraged everyone to remind state legislators of this when education funding is under consideration. She also noted that two years after passage of a strong bill recognizing the rights of people with disabilities to competitive employment, the Governor and Lt. Governor have failed to make appointments to a Commission charged with overseeing state agencies’ full implementation of it. Disability advocates will continue to push for these appointments and for full inclusion of people with disabilities in the workplace.
Disability Rights Mississippi (DRMS) is a private, non-profit corporation with a federal mandate to protect and advocate for the rights of individuals with disabilities across the state of MS. Its mission is to promote, protect and advocate for the legal and human rights of all people with disabilities, and to assist them with full inclusion in home, community, education and employment.
DRMS has been providing advocacy services for almost thirty years, free of charge, to Mississippians with disabilities and has helped improve the lives of thousands of our state’s most vulnerable population by championing their rights.
To learn more about DRMS, review its website www.drms.ms and facebook page. For information, referral, and assistance, call 800-772-4057.