Wheelchair users advocate for improved access at annual Roll on Capitol Hill event

The United Spinal Association and more than 100 advocates from its national network of chapters gathered in Washington, D.C. on June 7-10 for Roll on Capitol Hill, the association’s signature policy event.

Roll on Capitol Hill (ROCH) highlights key advocacy to ensure legislators include wheelchair users and all people with disabilities in policy debates on Capitol Hill, according to a press release.

Event attendees took part in 200 congressional office visits, meeting with legislators to discuss policy issues critical to the disability community, such as the need for greater access to individually configured wheelchairs, as well as accessible transportation, medical supplies, prescription drugs and Medicaid.

“Your courage to speak out and shed light on the issues that affect your quality of life is something that should be commended. There is no question your voice will make a difference for our entire community,” Tom Aiello, a United Spinal Association board member and disabled veteran, said during his welcome remarks, according to the release.

As part of ROCH, United Spinal hosted a Congressional Awards Reception to recognize members of Congress for their outstanding service to people with disabilities and veterans. Award winners included:

  • Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., who was honored with the 2015 Disability Rights Champion Award for her leadership role in expanding the rights of veterans, veterans with disabilities and the broader disability community;
  • Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Va., who received the 2015 Vets First Congressional Bronze Star Award for his efforts to increase opportunities for veterans living with disabilities and to help them reintegrate into their communities;
  • Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who was presented with the 2015 Outstanding Congressional Leadership Award for her extensive leadership and vocal support of disability issues;
  • Consumer advocate, Willis Washington, who received the 2015 Advocate of the Year Award for his years of effective advocacy on behalf of people with disabilities, not only in his own state of Oklahoma, but across the country; and
  • James Weisman, United Spinal’s executive vice president and general counsel, who was recognized for 38 years of advocacy work to expand the rights of people living with disabilities and commitment to ensuring access to transportation for wheelchair users in New York City and across the country.

Reference: www.unitedspinal.org.

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