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February 6, 2014
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Disability Advocates from Across Country Convene on Capitol Hill
Fourth annual Jewish Disability Advocacy Day brings Jewish community together
Washington, D.C. – Economic independence and protecting the rights of people with disabilities at home and abroad were the top items on the agenda today as disability advocates from across the country converged on Capitol Hill for the fourth annual Jewish Disability Advocacy Day. The Jewish Disability Network’s members and advocates met with congressional representatives to convey the necessity of passing the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act and approving the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
An initiative co-sponsored by The Jewish Federations of North America and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, the event brought activists together to learn about legislative issues that directly affect people with disabilities and their families. Over the course of the day, participants were briefed on key topics in the field by experts including Allison Wohl, executive director of the Collaboration to Promote Self-Determination, and David Morrissey, executive director of the US International Council on Disabilities.
Among other legislative issues, advocates discussed the importance of passing the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, a bill that would provide a tax-advantaged savings account of up to $100,000 for disability-related expenses to supplement the benefits received from sources such as private insurance, Medicaid and the Supplemental Security Income program. They also discussed the need to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), a United Nations treaty based on the Americans with Disabilities Act, which would protect and ensure the rights of the more than 1 billion people worldwide with disabilities.
“When people with disabilities and their allies speak directly with Members of Congress, it reminds the lawmakers that we are all affected by their actions,” said William Daroff, senior vice president for public policy and director of the Washington office of The Jewish Federations of North America. “Laws such as the ABLE Act and treaties like the Convention on the Rights of Person with Disabilities have a real, immediate impact on people’s lives. People with disabilities deserve the same opportunities as any other person, and a day like today goes a long way towards genuine and much-needed inclusion in our everyday lives.”
The event took place amidst a month-long campaign during February’s Jewish Disability Awareness Month, with the aim of mobilizing the Jewish community nationwide.
“Each year, I am struck by the courage and determination of these disability advocates,” said Rabbi Lynne Landsberg, senior advisor on disability issues at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. “It is of the utmost importance that we as a community work towards true inclusion of people with disabilities. It is our hope that this day inspires our representatives in Congress to take action to make this a reality.”
The Jewish Disability Network works to increase disability awareness and to highlight these issues for lawmakers with the goal of affecting change for people with disabilities and their families.
The Jewish Federations, collectively among the top 10 charities on the continent, protects and enhances the well-being of Jews worldwide through the values of tikkun olam (repairing the world), tzedakah (charity and social justice) and Torah (Jewish learning).
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose nearly 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.3 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 2,000 Reform rabbis. Visit www.rac.org for more.