The Real Economic Impact Tour has been a big eye opener for me. I mainly got involved with the National Disability Institute (NDI) because of my work in Los Angeles, with the tri-guild civil rights campaign, I AM PWD. Being one of the very few people on a TV series that has a physical disability I learned a great deal more about visibility, and how important it can be when those who have differences speak out. If we don’t publicly talk about our differences, we run the risk of being dismissed by decision makers, and people who make policies.
If I can help get people to pay attention because of what I do, I feel that I must take personal responsibility.
As a child I was fortunate in that I had a great generational support in my family. Aside from my parents, my grandparents were a big influence. In fact, one of my grandfathers started a philanthropic foundation that gave millions of dollars to education, building homes for people around the world, and other humanitarian causes. The work that my grandfather did encouraged me to follow in his footsteps.
I often get asked how I feel about how people with disabilities are less likely to obtain a college education. Quite honestly, I think it’s tough for a lot of people to attend college, disabled or otherwise. While we have access to one of the finest educations in the world, could you imagine if every American had a more affordable access to a college education? We would see a lot more educated people in America and that would have a great impact on our economy.
When a person has been told by those around them that they can’t do or achieve anymore than the limitations of others, it’s very difficult to overcome those kinds of narrow beliefs. Disabled or not, I believe that we all must think outside of the box to achieve the dreams and goals we have set for ourselves. I would imagine some of the challenge lies in the fact that our society still has a lot of work to do in the area of accommodating people with special needs. We know that equality in every way is the goal. Getting there is our big lesson.