In the last several years, if you've followed media coverage of issues related to Social Security Disability benefits, then you've undoubtedly noticed some controversy. For a while, many reports about disability benefits suggested that most people who receive them were somehow gaming the system. This perspective, however, reflects a lack of understanding of the SSDI system and the people who need those benefits to make ends meet.
In July 2015, the Americans with Disabilities Act will have been a law for 25 years. In the lead-up to that anniversary, a nonprofit group is teaming up with communities throughout the country to help people with disabilities tell their side of the story.
National Public Radio listeners may be familiar with "Morning Edition." The program sometimes features recordings from the nonprofit organization StoryCorps, which works to record one-on-one conversations between everyday people for historical preservation. Now StoryCorps is partnering with others on the Disability Visibility Project to preserve the stories of people with disabilities.
One of the top organizers is Alice Wong, who said she has known many people with disabilities and disability advocates over the years. "I believe their stories and the stories of everyday Americans with disabilities should be preserved," she said.
The recording sessions have so far been scheduled in select cities, but StoryCorps will also be using its mobile unit to visit communities throughout the United States. Maryland residents may want to look out for updates in case StoryCorps comes to your town.
All of the conversations recorded in the project will be housed and specially distinguished in the Library of Congress' American Folklife Center, and participants will receive their own broad-cast quality copies.
It's hoped that projects like this one raise awareness and help in some way to level the playing field for disability community members who too often don't receive the support and benefits they need.