At the table: The importance of advocating for ABLE

Individuals with Down syndrome need to be able to speak up and be heard. That’s why, as the leading human rights organization for all individuals with Down syndrome, the National Down Syndrome Society, works to be at every table. Today, NDSS will have a 400 person army of advocates on Capitol Hill with self-advocates from around the country telling their own stories to advance critical legislation for all people with Down syndrome.

Advocacy is at the heart of everything we do at NDSS – we advocate at the federal, state and local levels of government to advance policies that make the world a better place for people with Down syndrome. We believe “if you’re not at the table, you’re on the MENU.” At NDSS, we are at every table – advocating in all 50 state capitals, we are at the White House, the United Nations and today, we walk the halls of the U.S. Congress. We will storm the hill today for legislation that spans the life of an individual with Down syndrome – health, education, financial independence, community integration and employment.

{mosads}We are excited to speak up in support of three bills being introduced today in the Senate and House to enhance the Stephen Beck Jr. Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act of 2014. These measures, known as the ABLE to Work Act, The ABLE Financial Planning Act and The ABLE Age Adjustment Act, are the result of the tenacious leadership of a bicameral and bipartisan group that includes Sens. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) along with Reps. Pete Sessions (R-Texas),  Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), Tony Cardenas (D–Calif.) and Mike Doyle (D-Pa.).

Aimed at making ABLE accounts more effective in promoting financial independence and more accessible to a wider population of the disability community, NDSS is advocating for the passage of all of these bills in particular, the ABLE to Work Act, which is part of NDSS’ broader #DSWORKS® employment initiative to create meaningful employment opportunities for all individuals with Down syndrome.

NDSS always work to build bridges and advocate in front of any decision maker who can make an impact on the life of one person with Down syndrome. We speak with one, unified voice and advocating for the human rights of all individuals with Down syndrome. This is exactly how we passed the ABLE Act in 2014, when 85 percent of the entire U.S. Congress supported this effort.

Our Down syndrome community is a global army with seats at every table, sharing our own stories of advocacy in their own words – demonstrating that advocacy matters. 

Sara Hart Weir is President of the National Down Syndrome Society

The views expressed by this author are their own and are not the views of The Hill.

Tags Bob Casey Cathy McMorris Rodgers Jerry Moran Richard Burr

The Hill has removed its comment section, as there are many other forums for readers to participate in the conversation. We invite you to join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter.

See all Hill.TV See all Video

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video