Advocating for an Inclusive World
with Vicki Landers of Disability Pride PA
The movement for inclusion and equity for people with disabilities continues to evolve with a push for greater acceptance.
Vicki Landers, Founder and CEO of Disability Pride PA, joins host Tetiana Anderson to discuss the organization’s efforts to advocate for an inclusive world, where people with disabilities feel pride through their identity.
October 01, 2021
Anderson: In March of 1990, disability rights advocates protesting in Washington, D.C., put their wheelchairs, canes and other mobility aids to the side, and they made their way up the Capitol steps walking, crawling, and edging their way up to raise awareness about barriers created by inaccessible buildings. Four months later, the Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law. Hello, and welcome to "Comcast Newsmakers." I'm Tetiana Anderson. The movement for inclusion and equality for people with disabilities has continued to evolve now with a push for greater acceptance. Vicki Landers, founder and CEO of Disability Pride PA, joins me to discuss advocating for a more inclusive world. And, Vicki, thanks for being here.
Landers: Thank you for having me.
Anderson: So, part of achieving acceptance is having pride in ourselves, and I know that that's a large component of what you do. What does pride mean to you, and why is that so important when it comes to the idea of achieving full inclusion?
Landers: So pride is everything. It's the basis of who you are. To me, you need to have pride in yourself. When you have pride in yourself, you're going to advocate for yourself. With that, you advocate -- start to learn to advocate for others, and we start to advocate for our communities. And it makes a better inclusive world. It's very important to us that people feel the pride in themselves. Everybody has things, but you can feel pride in yourself with all your stuff.
Anderson: And you talked about advocacy being the root of what it is you do, and your group does advocate for some very specific things. And part of that is supported decision making. That's one of the areas that you work so closely in. What does that mean and how do you work to advocate for that?
Landers: So, yeah, so supported decision making is very important. Most people have heard about it because of the Britney Spears -- Britney Spears case. It is about conservatorship. It is about an individual not having the right to make the decisions for themselves. In supported decision making, you are supported by somebody, maybe, no matter -- a person of your choice to advocate for yourself, to ask for the things that you need to be able to tell what you want to do with your body, what you want to do with your money, and how you want to live your life.
Anderson: And what are some of the other key areas where Disability Pride is working to advocate and what's going well? And where do you need to sort of redouble your efforts?
Landers: So we're really working on home- and community-based services, which means that the services are brought to the person at their home in the community that they choose. That's super important. We need to have wages for those folks that are supporting us. That's a big thing that we're working on right now. Along with that is affordable, accessible housing. A lot of talk is going into affordable housing and accessible housing, but really it needs to be affordable, accessible housing and money needs to be put into that. Along with that, we talk about accessible infrastructure. We are looking for buildings, structures, cities, roadways, all of those things to be built with intention, that accessibility for everyone.
Anderson: So there have been centuries of stigma towards people with disabilities. And I'm wondering what can we do on an individual level? What can we practice each day to really grasp this idea that your normal is your normal, my normal is my normal, in an effort to break that stigma and normalize what some have considered difference in the past?
Landers: That's great. I think that what you need to do is you need to understand that a person that is coming up to you, ask them what their name is. Talk to them with their name, by their name. That's very important. They don't have to be "the wheelchair user" or "the person with this" or "the person with that." We have a name. Let's use our name. Also making sure that everybody is being -- being included, that they're at the table, that they're not only being asked to sit at that table, but they're actually getting to voice their opinions and their opinions are being taken into consideration. You know, I think that a lot of it has to do with... if you see something wrong, say something. That's a really easy thing that somebody told me.
Anderson: It makes perfect sense. And, Vicki, if people want to find out more about the work your organization does, what's the website and what are some of the things they'll find on it?
Landers: So our website is DisabilityPridePA.org. You'll find events that are coming up, important information, resources on other organizations that are doing good work, and then also, you know, any hot news that's coming up that we're -- that we have going on.
Anderson: Vicki Landers with Disability Pride PA, thank you so much for being here.
Landers: Oh, thank you for having me.
Anderson: And thanks to our viewers as well for watching. As always, for more great conversations with leaders in your own community and around the country, log on to ComcastNewsmakers.com. I'm Tetiana Anderson.