Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A New Declaration

July seems like a good month to talk about declarations.

The particular declaration we’d like to talk about isn’t the Declaration of Independence, but it is a declaration that may well lead to more independence for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The declaration we are talking about is the Declaration on the Rights of People with Cognitive Disabilities to Technology and Information Access.

Imagine! CEO Mark Emery first wrote about this declaration on his blog back in October, 2013. The declaration is a statement of principles: the rights of ALL people to inclusion and choice in relation to technology and information access.

Since that time, Imagine! employees and associates have been evangelizing in many different ways about this important and game changing declaration. Many at Imagine! have endorsed the declaration individually, and Imagine! has endorsed it as an organization. Imagine! representatives have featured the declaration in presentations delivered across the nation, and have highlighted the declaration prominently on Imagine!'s website and through its many social media channels.

Imagine! has also worked to incorporate the declaration into its everyday activities, as well as into its own set of rights for the individuals served by the organization. Having the very tangible goal of technology access for the individuals served by Imagine! provides a foundation for a new way of thinking about and discussing services. It has helped the organization to think more creatively when considering how services are to be delivered in the future, and the declaration is turning into a self perpetuating force as it becomes more ingrained in Imagine!'s organizational culture.

The declaration continues to gain momentum outside of Imagine! as well. It has been endorsed by Alliance, Colorado’s statewide association of Community Centered Boards (CCBs) and Service Provider Organizations (SPOs). And this past March, the Colorado State Legislature became the first legislative body in the nation to endorse the declaration.

The forward movement toward a more universal acceptance of the principles outlined in the declaration is encouraging, but we still have a long way to go.

So, if you haven’t already, please endorse the declaration, either as an individual or on behalf of the organization you work for or support (or both). Let the world know that the community of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and the organizations and caregivers who serve them are united in the belief that all individuals have a right to access comprehensible information and usable communication technologies to promote self-determination and engage meaningfully in major aspects of life.
More importantly, no matter what your relationship to Imagine! is, make the effort personally to ensure the declaration is a living, breathing document by studying, implementing, testing, and refining technology options in services in whatever capacity you are able.

Together, we can create a world where this declaration won’t need to exist because the rights enumerated within will be held as self evident to all. Technology can, and will, break down many of the remaining barriers that have historically prevented individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities from fully realizing their inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

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