[nfbmi-talk] i think applies to michigan too

joe harcz Comcast joeharcz at comcast.net
Sat Jan 8 08:13:58 CST 2011

New Congress should invest in seniors, disabled

January 06, 2011


As a new Congress and Illinois General Assembly convene, we strongly urge them to address the needs of people who are blind or otherwise disabled.


For our Congressional representatives, we first of all yearn for a return to the bipartisanship that shaped the successful passage of the Americans with

Disabilities (ADA) Act 20 years ago. Today, that spirit is sorely missed as too much political infighting threatens to overshadow a thoughtful appraisal

of the priorities of Americans including those who are blind or visually impaired.


The start of the new Congressional session this month coincides with the fact that the first wave of baby boomers will be turning 65 in 2011. They are the

vanguard of a generation of some 75 million Americans who will be experiencing vision loss in the years ahead. This will pose an unprecedented public health

challenge in America. To help prepare for this challenge, we recommend that the Obama administration along with Congress work together in developing a

strategic plan that will allocate needed resources.


Regarding the new session of the Illinois General Assembly, we are well aware of the dire economic situation facing our state and the need for shared sacrifice

in coping with the massive budget deficit. Like many other social service agencies, we have taken necessary steps to pare down our own budgets while keeping

intact the critical services we provide. However, the safety net for our most vulnerable citizens, including the blind and otherwise disabled, must remain

in place. Therefore, we encourage lawmakers to abstain from making any further cuts to human services, much of which have already been slashed to the bone.


With the rise in the number of elderly people, we think it would be prudent for legislators to invest more resources in senior programs. Given the high

unemployment rate in Illinois, funding for job training programs must also be given a boost. To better assist people with disabilities in getting to the

training sites as well as to their jobs, lawmakers need to fix any inequalities in paratransit funding so those who need the service will have easier access

to it.


In repairing our state's budget woes and gearing up for an economic resurgence, let's make sure that the voices of blind, visually impaired or otherwise

disabled Illinoisans are heard loudly and clearly.


-- Janet P. Szlyk, President and Executive Director, The Chicago Lighthouse; Charles E. Young, President, The Hadley School For The Blind


New Congress should invest in seniors, disabled - Chicago Tribune



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