Graphic: The Disability Rights and Independent Living Movement

Megan Kocher Magnan

Audio transcript: On cross-disability issues and the role of able-bodied persons with Massachusetts Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities
Date: April 11, 2003
Interviewer: Fred Pelka

Note: Transcripts have been lightly edited; therefore there may be slight discrepancies with audio clips.


Pelka:
Staying with cross-disability for a bit, were there any particular, was there any opposition to doing cross-disability, anyone who said, "This isn't a good idea?"

Magnan:
Not in the group that formed MCCD. It was very important to all of us.

Pelka:
So really, cross-disability was an important component of what you were doing right from the beginning.

Magnan:
Yes.

Pelka:
Okay. Were there particular difficulties in organizing in that way?

Magnan:
It always makes everything more complicated. Yes, even for a meeting you have to figure out, well get an interpreter, make sure you're in a wheelchair accessible site, make sure everyone's got their Ride arranged or help people get there. [The MBTA's paratransit service was called "the Ride."] I think we put lot of things on tape. I don't think we put things in braille. So it just takes an awful lot of work to get everyone's needs accommodated so they can participate. But, we wanted to do that, and we worked through that. There was one issue that's not cross-disability, but I was just reminded of that, was the role of the able-bodied person in MCCD. There the voting issue and structure issue got very touchy. There was someone in the MCCD, sort of a core group, someone from the Worcester area who thought able-bodied people should get three-fifths of a vote. That's what, I think, in the civil war times, after the slaves were free, they were going to be given three-fifths of a vote. So that issue really upset some people.

Pelka:
How was that resolved?

Magnan:
The able-bodied members got a full vote.

Pelka:
What was the proportion of able-bodied members to members with disabilities?

Magnan:
Probably like 90 percent disability, 10 percent able-bodied. There were some agency people, some people who'd been doing disability work through their jobs that were very committed and helped us in numerous ways.

Pelka:
Were there issues where that division was apparent? I mean, were there times when a vote would happen and all of the able-bodied people would vote one way or most would vote one way and most of the disabled folks vote another way?

Magnan:
No. The only issue was whether they should have a full vote. Whether they really belonged.

End of transcript


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