It should be seen without a doubt throughout our state that disability rights are human rights. That is why I believe that we need to ensure that we build our communities to be accessible to all. We need to work with non-profits who are empowering members of the disability community and ensuring they are able to live a fully functional life and participate in society.
Here are my responses to a detailed questionnaire on disability issues shared by The RespectAbility Report
Furthermore, here is what my Relief, Recovery, and Reform platform will accomplish:
I’ve also outlined additional proposals in my Housing and Criminal Justice sections, as Disability issues should not be siloed.
Make public transit free and reduce the cost of living
See my “Maryland Now Plan” for details
Invest in specialists
We need to explore alternative methods of crisis response for people with disabilities rather than relying solely on police. This would need to involve increasing capacity for community-based services and ensuring that law enforcement are better attuned to what their community needs are and who they are serving.
We also need to increase the accessibility of specialists to support Marylanders with disabilities with long-term services and support. These members of our community should be available not just in institutional settings, but also in their homes and communities and live a full life.
Create a Caregivers Program
I believe we should model a program in Maryland that is similar to the Kupuna Caregivers Program in Hawaii, in which the state helps offset some of the various costs associated with long-term caregivers (many of whom are women who are forced to leave the workforce to care for their family members who are a part of the disability community).
In Maryland, I would ensure residents who work 40 hours or more a week outside the home — and who serve as the primary caregivers — are eligible to enroll and eligible to receive $50-$100 per day to help cover some of the costs associated with hiring at-home direct care staff.
In doing so, we will not only help reduce the burdens of family care, but we will also help increase the number of in-home caregivers and help our disability community better — and more successfully.
We need to maintain our vigilance to ensure that new buildings being built are designed to ensure they are accessible to all Marylanders, whether they be residences or commercial structures. Likewise, I would propose funding an audit of existing public and commercial buildings to ensure that all such buildings are up to code and accessible to all Marylanders including those with disabilities.
Strengthen the Department of Disabilities
We need to ensure people from this community are given a real voice and opportunities to have input across the state when it comes to housing, healthcare, transportation and economic policies (in terms of creation and execution of policies).
We must also ensure this Department steps up its work to receive, investigate, and act on reports of violations of the rights of Marylanders with disabilities.
Criminal Justice Reform
In addition to expanding the resources for more specialists, we need to expand training for police officers to recognize mental illness and disabilities, work to prevent violence against disabled people in prisons and make courts more accessible to people with disabilities.