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For Immediate Release

Easterseals Acts as Agent of Change for Disability Rights Through Legacy of Advocacy

Chicago, IL , January 23, 2019

Sharon Watson

Chicago, IL – As Easterseals celebrates its 100th anniversary as the indispensable resource for children and adults with disabilities, it also reflects on its legacy as an organization that has been, and continues to be, a leading advocate to ensure everyone has full access and inclusion in their communities.

Easterseals began in 1919 when its founder, Edgar Allen, lost his son in a streetcar accident. Troubled by the lack of adequate resources for children with disabilities, Allen went on to sell his business and establish a hospital in his hometown of Elyria, Ohio. He continued to fundraise to ensure services and supports were available to this vulnerable population that was often hidden from society, ultimately leading to the formation of the National Society for Crippled Children, which today is known as Easterseals.

Allen’s pursuit of justice and advocacy for children with disabilities led the organization to lobby for legislation like the Civilian Rehabilitation Act in 1920, the Social Security Act, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Handicapped Children Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1991. The legislation Easterseals has largely advocated for has made advances for disability rights that break down barriers and clear pathways to create opportunities that did not exist before.

This advocacy continues today at the local and national level. In recent years, Easterseals has been a leading voice in the fight to protect Medicaid-funded services. In the months following proposed legislation to cut and cap Medicaid, Easterseals took measures such as collecting and sharing stories of those whose lives are impacted by Medicaid, circulating a petition, creating fact sheets and more.

In 2019, Easterseals will focus on the following priorities for the 116th Congress to ensure services are protected:

  • Medicaid, including protecting against cut and cap proposals;
  • Early intervention and childhood development, including possible changes or reauthorizations of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Head Start;
  • Health care access, protecting the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and pre-existing conditions protections;
  • Federal program funding, including efforts to remove sequestration caps and stopping across-the-board cuts;
  • Direct support professional workforce challenges; and
  • Transition-aged services, particularly related to IDEA and the Vocational Rehabilitation Program.

About Easterseals

For 100 years, Easterseals has served as an indispensable resource for individuals with disabilities, veterans, seniors and their families.  Together, our 71 affiliates in communities nationwide serve 1.5 million people annually through high-quality programs including autism services, early intervention, workforce development adult day care and more.  In schools, workplaces and communities, we’re fostering environments where everyone is included and valued – with a real and positive impact on us all.  Join us in ensuring that everyone – regardless of age or ability – is 100% included and 100% empowered.  Learn more at www.easterseals.com

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