What Some MS Activists Are Doing to Further ADA Compliance In Their Own Communities
MS activist Alex O'Connor from Raleigh, North Carolina shares what the passage of the ADA means to her and also explains what she is doing to expand access in her own community. Watch her story.
For 15 years, National MS Society volunteer Doris Matchett has been at the forefront of MS and disability activism efforts both in her hometown of Olney, MD, and on a national level. With her assistance dog Linus by her side, she lobbies for community-based long-term care options, disability rights, and accessibility on the local, state, and federal levels and improves Washington, D.C., area public transportation as co-chair and longtime member of the MetroAccess sub-committee. An effective activist, Doris uses her story to personalize the experience of living with progressive MS then universalizes her situation so others can connect to it.
Doris’ activism started in the mid-1990s, very close to her home in Olney. A main road in her busy neighborhood lacked curb cuts and crosswalks, making it nearly impossible for Doris, who uses a wheelchair, to safely cross the street. She took action. Politely but firmly, Doris brought the oversight to the attention of community decision makers, who ultimately created a safe, accessible crossing. After this first success, Doris worked to have a local business install power doors. Soon, she moved on to county , state and and federal issues .
Doris is determined to live in her own home for as long as possible, and she has translated this goal into a greater push to develop community-based long-term care options. Doris believes that nursing homes should be a last resort. She works to realize this by supporting and expanding the availability of personal care options, respite care, and home modifications. Doris has been able to remain in her home, and she has provided opportunities for others to continue to enjoy and function successfully in theirs. She has said that she feels like she has received a lot of community support and it is now her duty to give back by empowering others.
Doris has also focused on expanding disability rights by improving accessible, dependable public transportation in the D.C. area. Thirteen years ago, Doris began serving on the advisory committee of persons with disabilities for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro), which provides rail and bus service to D.C., southern Maryland and northern Virginia, as well as a shared ride door-to-door paratransit system for persons with disabilities called MetroAccess. As a member of this committee, Doris has represented individuals with disabilities and spoken up for disability rights when meeting with decision makers. After several years of service, she took on a greater leadership role and became co-chair of the committee, a position she holds today. Doris works to engage others, manage priorities and present concrete suggestions and solutions that will provide the best service to individuals with disabilities across many boundaries. MetroAccess has improved service in the D.C. area noticeably over the past several years thanks to the committee’s recommendations and Doris’ leadership.
Channing talks about what the passage of the ADA has meant to her and why she feels further compliance is important for future generations. Channing and four other MS activists attended the White House Event Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Watch a news story from her hometown news channel and learn more about how she and four other MS activits attended this celebration in July 2010.