Happy Friday, have a wonderful weekend!

NCIL 2017

I spent the last full week of July at the National Council on Independent Living conference in Washington DC. On the Saturday before the conference started, since I am the region VII representative, I attended the board meeting. I knew it was going to be a powerful conference when it was announced that Judy Heumann was going to speak at the opening plenary.

As someone who loves history, especially Disability history, to hear Judy Heumann speak is like listening to royalty. She was one of the early pioneers of the fight for disability rights and to even be in the same room with her was extremely exciting. Normally, I hate getting pictures taken, but I actually ask her if she would take a picture with me which of course she did. It was one of the highlights of my week to visit with her for just a few minutes.

The first day of the conference, after the opening session is primarily used to get ready for the march and rally on Capitol Hill. Because the US. Senate was voting on several healthcare bills, I knew this year’s march and rally was going to be one of the best. I also decided so that I could fully participate in everything going on, I would take vacation that day. The day started with the march to the capital. NCIL was joined by several other organizations and it was estimated that approximately 3,000 people joined us as we went to the capital. We heard several congress people speak at the rally, then it was time to meet with our elected officials.

We first met with Senator Roberts’ staff to discuss issues related to people with disabilities. After that, we had appointments with Senator Moran, Congressman Estes, and Congresswoman Jenkins. I, however, didn’t go to the meeting with Moran, as there was a protest against the healthcare bill that was being voted on and I wanted to do that. It was very loud and intense, with several people getting arrested, but I still had to meet with Congressman Estes’ staff so I left just before arrests started.

After the day on the hill, we spent the remaining time learning about different ways centers are working to provide IL services to their customers. Of course, because I am the poster child for delayed flights when coming home, our flight was about an hour and a half late leaving DC and there was a short period of time where we weren’t even sure it would get out on Friday. Of course we did finally take off and I have now made it back to PILR after another great NCIL conference.

-Roger F.

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