Let’s get in formation: 2016 Disability Policy Seminar

Tanya Auguste with fellow LEND trainees in formation before entering Senator Dick Durbin’s office
Photo: Sarah Agamah

Several LEND trainees attended the 2016 Disability Policy Seminar in Washington, D.C. The three-day conference, April 10–13, provided useful information on policies and their impact on the disability community.

IL LEND trainees had the opportunity to meet with other trainees, self-advocates, and family advocates, and they found it inspiring to listen to individuals strongly advocate against inequality. Sessions helped to understand the policies towards federal funding for disability programs, as well as how to have a successful Hill visit.

On the final day, the IL LEND trainees headed to the Hill to meet with staffers from the offices of Senators Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk, Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth, and Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky.

As a group, they discussed their concerns with several policies that affect individuals and families with disabilities, and were happy to see the staffers were genuinely interested in their concerns. The group was given suggestions to gain further support and sponsorships.

A few trainees were even able to formally meet Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky.

“Talking with Tia Nelis, a self-advocate specialist, was another special moment for me,” wrote psychology trainee Tanya Auguste. “Over Thai food, she shared with me how to develop skills that will assist me in becoming an effective leader in the disability community. In short, it requires practice, passion, and perseverance to ‘get in formation.’”