CT Cross Disability Lifespan Alliance

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I had the pleasure to attend the Cross Disability Lifespan Alliance (CDLA) Meeting on June 2nd in West Hartford. As the name implies, the Alliance is represented by members of diverse disabilities and allies across all sectors.

Their draft vision and mission statement are as follows:

“Connecticut will be a state in which people with disabilities can look at their lives and say, ‘life is good’ They will be able to say this because they will feel respected, engaged and valued in their communities.

The Cross Disability Lifespan Alliance of Connecticut advocates for the full Inclusion and participation in community of people with all disabilities.”

The panel speakers that day were Julie Reiskin, Jeffery Bravin, Nyema Pinkney, and Oryx Cohen. Each spoke eloquently about their disabilities (more to come on their personal context of self definition)

Jeffery Bravin is the executive director of The American School for the Deaf, in West Hartford. He brings a wealth of professional knowledge and expertise to his role, coupled with his lived experience as a man with hearing impairment. He continues to strive for ASL as a powerful method of enhanced communication, even with the rise of technology.

Julie Reiskin is the executive director of the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition (CCDC), bringing her background in clinical social work and consulting to the Coalition. She is a strong believer that we all can make a difference through a unified voice.

Oryx Cohen is the director of the National Empowerment Center Technical Assistance Center, and a leader in the Consumer/Survivor movement. Oryx advocates for alternative options for mental health treatment, seeking to make what society views as alternative treatments, mainstream.

Nyema Pinkney is no stranger to public speaking. As strategic commodity specialist at UTC Aerospace Systems, Nyema is a true wizard at strategy and communications. When a side effect of a medication left Nyema vision-impaired, she sought the new change head on. Nyema embodies resilience and the power of intentional living. She also currently serves as Chair of the State Rehabilitation Council, Bureau of Education and Services for the Blind.

Each panel speaker brought their own personal experiences and insights to the meeting that day, yet one thing was universally clear. CDLA seeks to remove the barriers of separation amongst disability culture by removing silos of separate causes, and create positive change as a unified force.

The CDLA asks that you mobilize with them to help enforce and educate equality and equity for people with disabilities. This is done by showing up, and speaking out.

Continue the conversation, and join the Alliance on Facebook, and check out their online calendar of events here!

For more information on the Cross Disability Lifespan Alliance, please contact Donna Devin at (860)418-8737 or donna.devin@ct.gov

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