Toward Disability Rights
By Vivian Fridas
Vivian Fridas is one of eight participants in the 2014 Youth in International Development and Affairs (YIDA) internship program. She and other YIDA interns will be writing a series of blog posts about their experiences with the YIDA program this summer, to be posted at this blog. USICD coordinates the YIDA internship program, which brings a cohort of students and recent graduates with disabilities to Washington, DC, each summer to complete internships at various international organizations in the Washington, DC, area. Vivian Fridas is completing her YIDA internship at the National Democratic Institute (NDI). Learn more about the YIDA internship program at http://usicd.org/template/page.cfm?id=257. Read Vivian Fridas’ biography, and the biography of other YIDA interns in the summer 2014 program, at http://usicd.org/template/page.cfm?id=269. The views and opinions expressed at this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of USICD.
As I continue my work at the National Democratic Institute, I have realized certain things. I am doing a great deal of research on barriers to the political participation system facing people with disabilities around the world. It is amazing to see that there is still a lot that needs to be done in terms of inclusion and integration around the world and here in the United States.
With independence day approaching, I always feel lucky and grateful to live in a country that is free, modern, and progressive, especially being the daughter of immigrants. This year, however, I re-examined this position. Over the past few weeks, I have witnessed that the United States is in need of more work for making life easier and equal for people with disabilities. Many public places are still not up to Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards which leave many of us unable to enjoy particular services on an equal basis. Indeed, I find that there is still a great need for education and awareness to the public about disability issues. I find this to be particularly true in my case as I have faced certain difficulties with being granted access to certain places with my guide dog. It can be frustrating to constantly encounter obstacles when trying to do something as simple as get a ride in a taxi, and come across drivers who are unwilling to hear that refusal of service is against the law. In this day and age, such action is unacceptable and needs to be remedied. With that being said, I believe it is important not to feel defeated and continue to try and promote a positive image of people with disabilities and disability rights. More education and sensitivity training is necessary. Dialogues and discussions concerning disability rights and inclusion will help facilitate change and improvement to conditions. Hopefully, with more people like the USICD interns fighting for important issues concerning people with disabilities, more work can be done to advance progression in disability issues.