People On the Go Maryland (People On the Go) builds community through diversity and inclusion. We respect the individuality of our members and are committed to making inclusion a priority so that everyone feels comfortable, valued, and heard. People On the Go remains distinct by maintaining a cross-disability strategy that focuses on effecting positive change in the lives of people with and without disabilities. Our 2023 legislative priorities reflect these focuses and values.
As stated above, People on the Go, believes in community inclusion for all, to the maximum extent possible and desired. Therefore, we will support any legislation be that at the federal, state, or local levels, which reduces reliance on settings which deliberately segregate those with disabilities from our peers without disabilities.
Maryland is a geographically diverse state with each county having its own challenges when it comes to providing reliable transportation for any group of people who are not readily able to drive or have access to vehicles. People with disabilities are especially affected by this. Therefore, People On the Go will work with our community partners to promote ideas which increase access to affordable, reliable, and safe transportation that travels in between jurisdictions for all Marylanders. By doing so, we increase access to employment, access to education, and promote the ideals of inclusion for all.
People On the Go believes that access to education, which prepares people for the workforce with an emphasis on integrated educational opportunities in high school and in college, is fundamental to a person’s ability to succeed in their lives. Going forward in recognition of this, People On the Go will support any policy that we see as potentially furthering these goals. We will also oppose any policy which may deprive any Maryland citizen from pursuing high school or post-secondary educational opportunities.
Access to Technology
Given the current global health crisis, access to technology and/or assistive technology has become more important than ever. They are used to provide support to individuals and families and help people stay socially connected, mentally and physically. Recognizing all of the potential for the use of technology, we shall take any opportunity, at all levels, to promote policies which emphasize breaking down barriers for access to technology.
Developmental Disabilities Administration Budget
A majority of People On the Go Maryland members and those with disabilities throughout the state rely upon supports from the Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA) to live their lives in the community. We shall continue to monitor the DDA budget; we will support any efforts to streamline the process for those currently in services, those who are still on the waiting list for services, and those youth transitioning from high school to adulthood who need supports. We will oppose any effort which reduces funding and prevents individuals and families from getting the help they need.
Direct Support Professionals
It is thanks to the work of direct support professionals (DSPs) that many of our members now have the opportunity to live, work, love, and play where they choose. DSPs are the backbone of our community and we will work to ensure that policies, which promote opportunities for growth for direct support, are undertaken at the state and local levels. We also understand that in spite of all the work DSPs do for people with disabilities, the issue of wages continues to be a problem. People On the Go will work to ensure that DSPs are front and center in any budgetary discussion and we will oppose any effort that anyone might make to reduce funding for DSP wages because of the direct support crisis.
Voting is the most fundamental right within our democracy. Through voting we determine our representatives, who then make policy decisions which affect all aspects of our lives. Yet access to voting continues to be challenging not only for people with disabilities but for other marginalized groups. People On the Go will support any effort which is designed to increase voter participation and eliminate barriers to the voting process.
All of the issues outlined in this platform can be seen as civil rights issues. Therefore, People On the Go, along with our community partners, will continue efforts to educate the general public around civil rights. We will support any effort designed to uphold civil rights law and expand opportunities for people with disabilities and other marginalized groups of people. People On the Go want to make it clear that in all cases, especially in the case where Civil Rights is concerned, people with disabilities should not only have a seat at the table, but should also be leading the discussion when appropriate.
People On the Go believe that it is incredibly important to maintain a healthy and cooperative relationship with Maryland State Police and First Responders. In this capacity we would like to continue to promote and encourage trainings both for officers and individuals with disabilities so they can continue to understand one another. People On the Go will oppose any disability registry programs associated with the police or otherwise.
People On the Go will support all efforts to increase affordable and accessible housing for individuals with disabilities in low-income housing situations.
People On the Go will help promote accountability and increase support for individuals of disabilities by working to increase the involvement of self-advocates across the state and to ensure that we have the lead voice in public policy. This could include advocating for the continued growth of the DDA budget. This could also include promoting the growth of self-directed opportunities and supporting initiatives to keep DSP pay raises above minimum wages.
Access to Health Care
People On the Go respects the individuality of our members, and we strive to eliminate discrimination. Part of that fundamental principle is access to healthcare, the right to choose the type of healthcare and treatments that an individual may receive with the desired level of supports, and information needed to make the choices that one determines appropriate for their life and circumstances.