Monday, December 10, 2018

Closing Remarks at the USICD Fundraising Gala


I was unable to attend the fundraising gala of the United States International Council on Disabilities on December 6th, but sent along some remarks. I hope after you read my remarks you will consider giving a year-end donation to USICD and/or joining it.


Patricia Morrissey
United States International Council on Disabilities
December 6, 2018

It was fitting that you observed a moment of silence to honor our 41st President, George Herbert Walker Bush. I had the honor to work on his second presidential campaign in 1992. He was, perhaps, the last president to see the real connection between international peace and domestic harmony. I suspect everyone here tonight understands the importance of that connection. It is based on simple universal principles.

Support for meaningful inclusion
Promotion of sustained engagement
Respect for locally driven decision making
Commitment to building empowerment, capacity, and system change
And most of all, protection of all human rights

I know that in 2019 you will make a renewed push and help the U.S. International Council on Disabilities in its advocacy, convening, and training to demonstrate these principles in action.

When you do -
Parents will no longer be separated from their children 
All children will live within a family
Pathways and doors, and what is beyond them, will be accessible and welcoming
Supports and services will be truly person-centered and -directed
Opportunities to contribute will be redefined and limitless

The last time I saw George Bush I had my picture taken with him. I had lost an earring and my hair was falling down. When friends later saw the picture they said, "It looks like the President was holding you up and you just got out of bed." The first statement was true. This is what the President said to me. "Pat, thanks for helping me. Each of us has a job to do. Each job is important. Remember everyone is a potential ally or resource. Together we can make the world a better place for all. We did the ADA, when they thought we wouldn't or couldn't. We can bring it around the world."

He's right. It is happening. Help the U.S. International Council on Disabilities reach further, reach more, build bridges, strengthen connections, and THRIVE in its promotion of disability rights.

Thank you.

Aloha from Hawaii.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Please Attend the US International Council on Disabilities Fund Raising Gala!


It's that time of year again. The U.S. International Council on Disabilities (USICD) is having its annual fund raiser. The details are below. I hope you will buy a ticket and/or sponsor someone else to attend. Each year the event gets bigger and better. This year is no exception. WE PROMISE YOU A GREAT EVENING. Our gala is our principal way of acquiring general operating funds. USICD sees itself as the key source of building connections among and convening those who want to bring concrete, meaningful expressions of disability rights into every corner of the globe; as the how-to platform for training and technical assistance (no problem is too big or small for resolution when it comes to policy development, capacity building, or system change); and as the voice at the table when decisions are being made about economic development and accessibility. Please help us! As president and chair of the Board of Directors, I will be forever grateful for your support of USICD. In these uncertain times when the wrong words do so much harm, the right actions are so needed and so much more powerful. Together we can show the power of good will.

Thank you,


Banner with USICD Logo and words Celebrate the Internation Day of Persons with Disabilities
TSenator John McCain IIIhe United States International Council on Disabilities (USICD) will hold its fifth annual fundraising Gala in celebration of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 6 December from 6:00 - 8:30 pm at the AT&T Forum in Washington, DC!
At our event, USICD will honor leaders of the disability rights movement whose impact has been felt on the international stage-American policymakers are recipients of the Dole-Harkin Award,for distinction in public service to the global disability community, and an overseas Senator Tammy Duckworthdisability rights advocate is honored for his/her outstanding work in advancing the rights, opportunities, and dignity of persons with disabilities.
This year, USICD is delighted to present the Dole-Harkin award, named after Senator Bob Dole and Senator Tom Harkin to Senator John S. McCain III posthumously, and also to Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL). 
Rosemary Kayess
USICD's International  Advocate award will be presented to Rosemary Kayess from Australia who was recently elected to serve on the CRPD Committee. She is an accomplished human rights lawyer, researcher and academic. She is also currently Chair of the Australian Centre for Disability Law and Director of the Disability Innovation Institute at the University of New South Wales. 
The annual USICD gala is a spectacular event that brings together disability rights advocates, legislative leaders, new and long-term donors, business and philanthropic leaders, members of the diplomatic corps, and other friends of the disability rights movement.
Contact us to learn about Gala Sponsorship opportunities!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Talking Points and Suggested Legislative Text for Our Museum

Talking Points
A National Museum on the American Experience with Disabilities

According to the 2010 census there were 54 million people with disabilities. That is one in five people who live in the U.S. Then you have all the people related to and who interact with that 54 million. That is a lot of people who have experience with disabilities. A museum on the American experience with disabilities makes sense. What happened to such people throughout our history? What are their stories today? What can they expect in the future? How can we use this chronology of experience to shape a more inclusive society and more accessible communities?

We have drafted such legislation based on that enacted to create the National Museum of African American History and Culture (Public Law No: 108-184 (12/16/2003)), the newest museum on the National Mall to join the family of museums operated by the Smithsonian Institution.

Here are the top ten reasons why such a museum related to the American experience with disabilities is needed now.

1.     We have a lot of partisan tribalism on display. We need something to bring us together – why not invest in common ground by creating a place where the American experience with disabilities through history can be shared?

2.     We have preconceived notions about how to treat people with disabilities. We need a place to test such notions and maybe develop more appropriate ones.

3.     We have varied perspectives on the value of people with disabilities. We need a place to capture and to celebrate their contributions.

4.     We have a built environment that is not always welcoming and accessible to people with disabilities. We need space to show what a difference an accessible place can make.

5.     We often assume people with disabilities do not have preferences and need to be cared for. We need a place where we can educate ourselves about what happens when such assumptions are flipped.

6.     We have policies based on good intentions that have unintended adverse consequences. We need to learn how they could be changed for the better.

7.     We have human service systems that work and those that don’t. We need a place to demonstrate what real person-centered planning and self-directed services allows to happen.

8.     We have environments, such as schools and workplaces, that promote and foster meaningful inclusion. We need a place to celebrate such environments and promote their replication.

9.     We need to understand that timing, time, and the use of time are the fundamental factors of difference between a person with a disability and a non-disabled person. We need a place to show what happens when time or timing is considered.

10.  We need to understand that people with disabilities are the world’s most innovative problem solvers. We need a place to showcase what happens when they are part of planning, decision making, implementation, and evaluation. Society, as a whole, benefits.

A National Museum on the American Experience with Disabilities – bringing it about – would trigger new partnerships, divert everyone from political tribalism, and reaffirm our collective commitment to core American values.

April 18, 2018
National Museum of the American Experience with Disabilities Act
National Museum of the American Experience with Disabilities Act - (Sec. 1) Establishes within the Smithsonian Institution (SI) the National Museum of the American Experience with Disabilities, to be operated as a center for scholarship and a location for museum training, public education, exhibits, and collection and study of items and materials relating to the life, art, history, and culture of persons with disabilities that encompass the period from the founding of the United States to the present day and also projects what the experience may be in the future.
(Sec. 2) Establishes the National Museum of the American Experience with Disabilities Council to: (1) advise and assist the SI Board of Regents on Museum planning, design, construction, operation, and budgets; and (2) have responsibility and authority with respect to the Museum's collections and work, subject to the Board of Regents' general policies.
(Sec. 3) Requires the Secretary of SI to appoint a Director to manage the Museum. 
(Sec. 4) Authorizes the Director of the Museum to carry out educational and liaison programs in support of Museum goals. 
(5) Requires the Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), in consultation with the Council and the Director of the Museum, to establish specified grant, scholarship, internship, and fellowship programs relating to local and state museums devoted in part or entirely to the American experience with disabilities. Authorizes appropriations to the IMLS Director for such programs. 
(Sec. 6) Directs the Board of Regents, in consultation with specified Commissions and congressional committee officials, to select the Museum's site from one of four specified sites on, adjacent to, or near the national mall. Requires the Board of Regents to pay costs of planning, design, and construction of the Museum on the chosen site as follows: 50 percent from Federal funds and 50 percent from non-Federal sources. Authorizes appropriations. 
(Sec. 7) Provides for Congressional Budget Act compliance by declaring that authority under this Act to enter into contracts or to make payments shall be effective in any fiscal year only to the extent provided in advance in an appropriations Act, except that amounts made available under section 9 of this Act shall remain available until expended. 
(Sec. 8) Directs the Council and the Board of Regents, in carrying out their duties under this Act, to consider the reports and plans submitted by the National Museum of the American Plan for Action Presidential Commission under the National Museum of African American History and Culture Plan for Action Presidential Commission Act of 2001 (Public Law 107-106). 
(Sec. 9) Authorizes appropriations to SI to carry out this Act (except as already provided) in a specified amount for FY 2019, and in necessary amounts for subsequent fiscal years.

 Let's make this happen, ok?

Common Grounder

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

It’s Time for a National Museum on the American Experience with Disabilities

Two weeks ago, at the University of Hawaii I attended a lecture by Lonnie Bunch, III. He is a historian and the founding director of the newest museum on the Nation’s Mall – the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. Dr. Bunch talked about how in 2005 he and his initial team of two, started with literally nothing and today offer visitors to Washington, D.C a museum that educates all about the American experience with slavery, segregation, heroes and heroines, and triumphs of the human spirit expressed in everyday events and culture over 400 years, as well as glimpses into tomorrow’s intersection between America and its African Americans. It has 6,000 visitors a day, 1/3 more than expected.

He told a fascinating story about how he started with nothing, secured prime real estate and treasured artifacts (using the Antiques Roadshow approach), raised money, around a billion dollars, and navigated Congress. Everyone thought he would never pull it off and should be happy with just a website! When he was initially hired, security would not let him into his office. He found a crowbar to let himself in. We could learn from this amazing man.

We need to build a museum about the American experience with disabilities. Anything that happens to a human being has happened to human beings who are individuals with disabilities, their families, and their social networks. It may have been more intense. It may have had either short term or long term effects. It could have been good or bad. Nonetheless, people who interact and engage around a disability-related experience are changed. I would argue changed for the better. Such an experience can develop or heightened understanding of another. The experience can make a person appreciate time and timing, recognize the difference between special treatment and practical accommodation, appreciate collaboration, celebrate problem solving and thinking out of the box, and value real inclusion and the opportunity to fully participate and contribute. These are powerful lessons about life, and of course there are more!

The 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act is July 26, 2020. Let’s all work together to draft and introduce legislation that would authorize the Smithsonian to establish a National Museum on the American Experience with Disabilities. Let me know what you think. It’s our turn, opportunity, and challenge. We can do it.

Thank you.

Common Grounder

Monday, January 1, 2018

An Approach for 2018

Happy 2018!

The possibility exists that 2018 could be a good year, a smart year, if those of us with disabilities and our allies get back to basics. It is good for us that God DOES NOT offer the disability experience to individuals or families OF ONE POLITICAL PERSUASION. The disability experience shows up everywhere, any where, and any time. People, who have a disability experience, have a common bond, a common mission -- ensure participation, promote independence, expand accessibility, and offer opportunities to contribute. Where we may differ is HOW we go about accomplishing these things. But guess what? That is OK. Strong, credible solutions come out of robust discussions.

Here are things we need to do early in 2018:

Find out who in Congress has had a disability experience and arrange some conversations with Chairs of the Task Forces of the Coalition for Disabilities. We need to build new relationships and reinforce old ones. These conversations could lead to shared agenda items.

Review all the statistics we can find and determine the trends in the statistics. How might the good trends be reinforced and the bad ones stopped or reversed? Write up what we find and think, and publicize it widely.

Develop profiles in success that show what individual with disabilities have accomplished, because of or in spite of public programs. Publicize these widely.

Look for innovations in approaches and technology that have or could change lives if widely known, accessible, and adopted. Publicize them widely.

Develop a 2-year agenda and strategies for carrying it out.

Here are things we need to do mid-way through the year:

Give EVERY POLITICIAN the three things we want to happen; the three things we don't want to happen; and the one thing we will help them with as the fall election approaches. Once a month check in with them.

Develop a platform for the fall political elections which reflects assumptions, operating principles, and goals for the next Congress.

In November 2018 remember:

We need allies who know us.

We must offer to do things for as well as expect things from our elected officials.

America is stronger if everyone is engaged, listens well, seeks consensus-driven solutions, and invests time and energy in implementation of such solutions.

Social media can help us become a strong voice in 2018, a smart voice, and clear voice. Let's use it together to make 2018 a great year for everyone.

What's a powerful hash tag to get us started? Let me know, please.

Thank you.
Common Grounder