July is Disability Pride Month. Since 1990, Disability Pride Month has celebrated disabled people, their identities and cultures, and their contributions to society. The Pride movement promotes the understanding that disability is a natural part of human diversity. People with disabilities make up about 26 percent of the U.S. population, including all ages, races, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, religions, and socio-economic backgrounds.

Advocacy is at the root of progress for people with disabilities. If not for the passionate work of individuals with disabilities, families, friends, and their political champions, people simply would not have the opportunities and supports they need to live satisfying and productive lives.

Disability Pride Month takes place during the anniversary month of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which was signed in federal law in 1990 by President George H.W. Bush. The ADA is comprehensive civil rights legislation. It prohibits discrimination and guarantees that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else to participate in their communities -- to work, to purchase goods and services, and to access programs and accommodations. People with disabilities rely on the law to help bring organizations into compliance, and action under the law is regularly successful.

One of the ADA’s many important outcomes is the Olmstead Supreme Court decision of 1999, which requires public entities to administer services to individuals with disabilities in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs. In part, the ADA and this decision ensure that people with disabilities receive the support they need to live alongside other people in the community.

Aspire has been a leader in community-based services for neurodiverse people since the early 1980s, when many people first began leaving institutions and returning to their communities. In the decades since, Aspire’s work has grown into a vibrant array of supports and services where people discover their passions, unlock potential, and thrive.

Unfortunately, the funding required to make this reality happen for every person has not kept pace with the need. For people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, decades of underinvestment by the elected officials and the federal government in Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) are threatening the viability of services across the country. Finding and keeping skilled Direct Support Professionals during this time of labor shortage is extremely challenging. Medicaid funding does not support a living wage for DSPs. Nor does it increase to meet inflation in other expenses.

Like all providers, Aspire is experiencing the gap between what we have to pay to retain skilled DSPs and the funding we receive. Your gift to Aspire today ensures people receive the services they need to continue living full lives.

Congress is currently considering a budget reconciliation bill that could potentially add $150 million of urgently needed funding. Your advocacy can make all the difference. ANCOR, the American Network of Community Options and Resources, is making it easy for you to raise your voice! Use the link below to contact your senators and let them know you are “All In for HCBS.”

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Disability Pride Month: An Opportunity for Celebration & Advocacy