On November 5th, The Focus Group for People with Disabilities, made up of Warriors on Wheels for Metropolitan Detroit, the Collective for Disability Justice, the National Federation for the Blind, Blast Detroit and Detroit Disability Power, met with Mayor Mike Duggan to advocate for a City of Detroit Office of Disability Affairs (ODA). The ODA envisions a just, fair, and inclusive Detroit where all people with disabilities—residents and visitors—–can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential. The ODA would be responsible for championing accessibility, Americans with Disabilities Act compliance and enforcement, advocacy, intergovernmental coordination, research and data capture, emergency preparedness, staff trainings and more. Although the mayor did not commit to the office in its entirety, he saw value in providing a central point of focus, building out initiatives within the Housing and Revitalization Department, the Department of Transportation and Detroit Employment Solutions, and exploring opportunities to improve upon digital access and language access. He also suggested quarterly meetings.
On December 10th, the Focus Group presented the ODA proposal to the Detroit Charter Revision Commission. We were well received. The strategy of the Focus Group includes gaining support from the mayor, the city council, and the charter revision commission to establish the ODA within the city charter. In 2020, we will continue to dialog with the mayor, present the ODA to city council member, return to the charter revision commission to win supportive votes, host town halls for people with disabilities to continue to build relationships, and write opinion editorials to advocate and raise disability consciousness. If you have time, skills or other resources to support any of these efforts, and if you believe Detroit residents and visitors deserve champions in city government, we need you!
To get involved, please email Dessa@detroitdisabilitypower.org.