The Resource Center for Independent Living provides invaluable services to people with disabilities to assist them to live independently in the community. RCIL believes that a "disabled" person is an "enabled" person when they have equal access to the tools and resources that allow them to make choices that help them to become productive members of the community. Our goal is to help provide equal access to all goods, services and opportunities enjoyed by all Americans.
As a disability rights advocate at RCIL, I find advocacy to be a very challenging, yet rewarding area to work in. An advocate assists in a wide spectrum of issues covering basic human needs, such as housing, transportation, applying for food stamps, Social Security or Medicaid. We refer people to agencies or service providers that are best suited to meet their individual needs. We provide support or peer counseling for the consumer wherever needed, and a host of other services depending on people's needs. More importantly, we emphasize independent living by empowering the individual to learn to self-advocate. We do this by encouraging them to do things for themselves.
As a deaf person and an advocate, I work with deaf individuals. For most deaf people, sign language is their first language and English is a second language. Often they have no language at all until they begin school. These individuals' needs often go unmet because they face many barriers stemming from lack of effective communication with service providers and others in the community.
For the deaf, as well as for all people with disabilities, there are still many areas that need reform. These areas include but are not limited to equal access to effective communication, as mandated in the Americans with Disabilities Act, equal employment opportunities and accessible housing.
We, at RCIL, are committed to breaking these barriers for every individual with a disability and will continue to pursue this goal until all people in this country have equal access to the goods and services that we all take for granted here in the United States.
Disability Rights Advocate at RCIL
Amsterdam and Herkimer