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Disabilty Rights Advocates Call For Better Education, Transportation

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 14 Oct 2011 04:28pm | comments
Helena Berger.

Mississippians living with disabilities are pushing for better educational options for disabled children. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that disabled Mississippians are far less likely to graduate high school than able-bodied students.

Disabled Mississippians and their care givers met recently in Jackson to look for ways to improve the lives of disabled people.

Better education for disabled Mississippi children is a major focus for people with a disability and their advocates.

Helena Berger with the American Association of People with Disabilities says only a third of disabled Mississippian children get a high school diploma...which can lead to problems finding work and high poverty rates as adults.

"These are not mutually exclusive issues, they are intertwined. Which is why it is important from the start if you are a parent and you have a child with a disability to make sure that he or she is getting a proper education," Berger said.

Berger says many people equate a physical disability with mental impairment and underestimate what disabled students are capable of and believes that bringing students more fully into the education process could raise graduation rates.

Advocates are also pushing the state to improve transportation options for people living with a disability.

Berger says lack of transportation makes it more difficult for disabled Mississippians to find and keep employment.

"We are talking about a more isolated population. And then if you are talking about a rural situation, rural counties, and towns and cities. You are talking about people that are removed and really, really difficult to get to," Berger said.

A person with a disability is more likely to be unemployed and live in poverty than the rest of the general population.

Berger says disability rights advocates need become more politically organized and active to build pressure to improve the state's infrastructure and educational system.


Helena Berger.



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