Our keynote address was delivered by the energetic and dynamic Al Condeluci. (Find out more about Al by visiting this website http://www.ucp.org/ucp_generaldoc.cfm/1/9/10438/10438-10438/5875)
Al challenged the crowd to "pull themselves up from the developmental disability arena and to rise up 30,000 feet to see that the barriers we are facing are the same as other marginalized communities. This is not a developmental disabilities issue, this issue is bigger than that."
Here are some facts that Al shared with the group:
Unemployment rate is 4.3% for the general public. The rate of unemployment for people with disabilities is 76%.
76% of people with disabilities are unemployed or under employed.
Jobs are a primary way that we get two needs met in our lives
Jobs give us an identity and access to other people.
Home ownership is the great American dream.
Home ownership establishes a sense of place.
71% of people in America own their own home.
6.2% of people with a significant disability own their own home.
A majority of people with disabilities end up in group homes or instiutional settings
Transportation barriers are a major issue for people with disabilities.
Public transporation is under assault in the Unites States. The transportation budget is being cut in every city in America.
Poor people get hit the hardest.
Think about your friendship network. A typical person in society has about 150 friends. This network is referred to in research as "social capital".
Incredible research in the last 30 years on "social capital". The typical person in society has about 150 friends.
Currently there is little to no research regarding people with disabilities and "social capital".
There was a lot to think about during this amazing opening session and it is time we change the focus of our conversation.