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The Disabled Community

Welcome to The Jungle.

As a blind woman, I speak frankly about my community. I do not sugar-coat our realities, and I make it a point to not hide anything that may be too negative or pessimistic when it comes to my community. The disabled population in the United States has fought for decades to receive the most basic of human rights, and we're still fighting this battle. In turn, the community is often defending itself on all fronts - socially, politically, economically, physically, and emotionally. 

Within our nation and our state, we have serious work to do when it comes to supporting people with disabilities. Ensuring disabled individuals have access to education, employment, healthcare, and all other rights United States citizens get to enjoy is not something politicians actively pursue. As one of the only disabled candidates in the entire state, these are legislative asks that are prominent inside Georgia's Disabled Community:

1.  Abolish Sub-Minimum Wage.  

Under Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act, employers are authorized, after receiving a certificate from the Wage and Hour Division, to pay sub-minimum wages (SMWs)—wages less than the federal minimum wage—to workers who have disabilities “for the job being performed.” Due to gg legislation, people with disabilities have been seen throughout the US making hourly wages as low as $2.50 an hour. Some states have abolished sub-minimum wage; Georgia is not one of them. 

2. Expand Medicaid 

In a nutshell, expanding Medicaid in Georgia would have a transformative impact on individuals with disabilities. By providing increased access to healthcare services, it would improve health outcomes, alleviate financial burdens, support independent living, and create employment opportunities. This crucial step would ensure that individuals with disabilities receive the necessary medical care, therapies, and assistive devices they need to lead healthier, more fulfilling lives. Through the lens of disability, expanding Medicaid in Georgia is a vital and compassionate endeavor that would enhance the overall well-being and inclusivity of the state's population.

3. Create a Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired 

Currently, services for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Georgia are overseen by the Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency (GVRA), which is designed to provide funding and support for people with disabilities in Georgia such as job readiness programs, tuition assistance, and employment opportunities. However, due to caseload, staffing issues, and lack of accessibility and outreach, GVRA clients experience long wait times, lost paperwork, and often aren't aware GVRA is even an option for them. To solve this issue, HB692 was introduced during our 2023 session that would create an additional commission for Blind and Low Vision Services to be overseen by individuals with visual impairments, and others who have worked directly with the Blind community. However, this bill was tabled during session. 

4. Fund Comp/Now Waivers for Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities 
In Georgia, individuals and families with intellectual or developmental disabilities are able to apply for COMP and NOW waivers to provide financial support for things like healthcare, housing, and education. These waivers are funded by our state legislature, and rely on our state budget. Georgia has historically underfunded waivers, and have found ourselves with a waitlist that is over 7000 people long. This year, Gov. Kemp was asked to fund 2500 waivers in our FY24, but chose to only fund 250, leaving over 6500 disabled adults and children on the waitlist...again. 

To learn more about my stance on Healthcare, click here. 

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