This week I had the opportunity to attend the 2014 National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) conference. I attended a variety of different sessions ranging in topic from surveying establishments for ADA compliance to the hardships of employing, scheduling, and providing health care for Personal Care Attendant (PCA) service providers under two different sets of rules and regulations set out by the Department of Labor and the Affordable Care Act.
In addition to learning about a variety of different topics, the conference taught me a lot about myself. I realized the importance of grassroots advocacy on Tuesday when myself and 800 conference participants marched from the Grand Hyatt to the Capitol in support of the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The rally following the march was very empowering as we heard from disability advocates on both sides of the isle in both houses of Congress. Being told that I was about to get arrested for civil disobedience in the Hart Senate Office building was exhilarating because I knew that I was making my voice heard about the importance of ratifying the CRPD.
All in all the advocacy efforts of the conference participants paid off because there are now even more Senators in support of ratification of the CRPD. Now the challenge is keeping up this level of support during the August recess before a vote can be held in September.
The NCIL conference was an experience I will never forget and hope to be able to attend in the future as I further develop in my advocacy career.