March 11, 2022 will mark our third celebration of Disability Advocacy Day in Tennessee.
Tennesseans with disabilities experience disparate access to the same basic education, housing, transportation, and healthcare as state residents without disability. Outside of a pandemic, self and collective advocacy is critical to ensuring access to essential supports and services. Amid the pandemic, Tennesseans with disabilities continue to use their voices to speak up for basic services, and speak out against policies that infringe on civil rights and other legal protections provided under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Consequently, this often-marginalized and overlooked community has made a formidable impact on state policy.
Achievements of Tennesseans with Disabilities:
Katie Beckett Program
Autism Equity Act
TN Family Support Program
Tennessee Autism Council
STEP UP Scholarship
Expanding home-and community-based services
Nurse delegation of health maintenance tasks
Claire’s Law (hearing aids for kids)
Concussion management protocol in schools
Support for aging caregivers
Protecting student rights
Service animal protections
Protecting individual rights in deinstitutionalization
Disability Vote Alliance
Personal assistance licensure
Modernizing state laws on mental health and developmental disabilities
Tennessee Disability Act
Supporting and licensing medication administration in the community
Ensuring accessibility in Legislative Plaza and the Cordell Hull building
Limiting institutional care
Open Doors Home Health Care Act
Lane v. State of TN – equal access to justice
Prohibiting employment discrimination
Protecting and expanding access to Medicaid
“People with disabilities learn very early that advocacy is the only way to tackle the barriers they face in an ‘able’ world,” says Tennessee Disability Coalition Executive Director, Carol Westlake. “We learned decades ago that we have to build community, work together, and be clear about what’s needed. It takes advocacy to achieve the basic level of access, inclusion, and support that others take for granted. We have to stand up, speak up and follow up. And we have to stick together. When COVID-19 hit, we knew the stakes. We knew the importance of the moment, and the disability community rallied."
The Tennessee General Assembly has filed an official proclamation in honor of March 11th as Disability Advocacy Day and landmarks across West, Middle and East Tennessee lit up "Coalition Blue" in support, solidarity and recognition of successful advocacy by the disability community of Tennessee. Representative Sam Whitson has sponsored this legislation, posted online here.
2023 Participating Locations (thus far!):
Adventure Science Center, Nashville
Bicentennial Park Amphitheatre, Nashville
Customs House Museum & Cultural Center, Clarksville
Korean Veterans Memorial Bridge, Nashville (will be lighting up on March 8th, Disability Day on the Hill, in celebration)
Pulaski Recreational Center, Pulaski
State Capitol Cupola, Nashville
Tennessee Performing Arts Center, Nashville
Dollywood, Wildwood Tree, Pigeon Forge
Henley St. Bridge, Knoxville (will be lit up March 7th-11th in solidarity)
Tennessee Aquarium, Chattanooga
How can you or your organization participate in Disability Advocacy Day?
Contact us if your organization would like information or assistance with lighting up "Coalition Blue" at 615-383-9442
Check out our Disability Advoacay Day Toolkit: a digital library of graphics including social media images, messaging, associated hashtags, and other resources to show your support for Disability Advocacy in Tennessee and the Americans with Disabilities Act.