The ILRC tours NCIL headquarters
By: Jose Morales, Program Asssistant, The ILRC
Editor's Note: Jose Morales, Program Assistant at The ILRC, is captain of the Jacksonville Goalball Team. Special thanks to Tim and Kelly for providing The ILRC with a tour of NCIL headquarters.
On my trip to the Capital, I had the exciting opportunity to visit the National Council on Independent Living. After a very successful goalball tournament, losing in the final became secondary when I noticed that the tournament was all put together by individuals with disabilities. Second place became secondary when my teammates and I were using the amazing accessible public transportation, when each museum had textile exhibits that we could touch, when we could find braille labels on monuments, and even when our phones would tell us where to walk to find the next landmark. I know that all of that was possible through the Independent Living movement and Americans with Disabilities Act. Therefore, I was proud to meet with an agency that focuses on advocacy and lobbies on capitol hill for our rights.
I learned that the National Council on Independent Living offers a national policy platform to advocate for the human and civil rights of all individuals. I learned that their members directly determine the stagnancy public policy priorities through surveys, and by serving on their legislative and advocacy subcommittees. NCIL has many different committees such as: housing, transportation, youth transition, etc. They also host groups from other countries and give them mentoring. Besides that, they have internships available for students with disabilities.
I met Kelly Buckland, NCIL's executive director. He talked to me about the movement, legislation they are working on and youth engagement. We talked about, at the grassroots level, the best way to help was by reaching out to our congressman. We also talked about how they were able to change the position of a congressman who was co-sponsoring a bill they opposed. Just like the game a lot has been accomplished, but there is a lot still to get done and maintain.