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 2024 legislative priorities reflect these focuses and commitments.
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 their 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 which 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. 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
The recent global health crisis has made access to technology or assistive technology more important than ever. This is used to provide supports to individuals and families, help people stay socially connected, and mentally and physically well. People On the Go recognizes the potential for the use of technology, both named and unnamed here, to break down barriers for access for people with disabilities to the broader community. Access for Marylanders with disabilities to virtual spaces, particularly within the legislative process and in employment, is important to accommodate those with mobility and transportation issues and provide inclusivity in policymaking and in workplaces.
Developmental Disabilities Administration Budget
A majority of People On the Go of Maryland members and those with disabilities throughout the state rely upon supports from the developmental disabilities administration (DDA) to live our 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 that many of us now have the opportunity to live, work, love, and play where we choose. They are the backbone of the human service field; in recognition of that fact people on the go along with its community partners will work to ensure that policies are undertaken at the state and local levels, which promote opportunities for growth for direct support professionals. We also understand that in spite of all the work these professionals do for people with disabilities, the issue of wages continues to be a problem. We will work to ensure that DSPs are front and center in any budgetary discussion, we will oppose any effort that anyone might make to reduce funding for DSP wages because of the current circumstances.
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 other marginalized groups. We 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 our 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 it makes sense to do so.
People On the Go will support all efforts to increase affordable housing for individuals with disabilities in low income housing situations.
People On the Go will help promote accountability and increased support for individuals with disabilities and the Self Advocacy Unit. 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 Direct Support Professionals 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, and 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 themselves and their individual situations. This is a matter of personal choice, not for politicians to decide for others. We realize the issue of reproductive rights is controversial, but we hold the view that this is a fundamental tenet of individual choice. We cannot state that we believe that people with disabilities have the right to be in the community, be employed, and participate in all other facets of life without upholding this fundamental viewpoint. People On the Go recognizes that the Medicaid determination process is often inaccessible and needs to be addressed due to the vital nature of the service for people with disabilities. People On the Go shall work to ensure that all people with disabilities have the access to healthcare that they need.
People On the Go Maryland believes that everyone should have access to fair wages. Although the fight for sub-minimum wages is over in Maryland, equal pay is still not available for those with disabilities across the board. Economic equality is essential for those with disabilities to live independently. Furthermore, the current pay gap continues cycles of poverty which continuously harms the lives of those with disabilities and any future prospects of a decent life. We will continue the push to eliminate the sub-minimum wage at the Federal level as we did at the state level.
Accessibility in the Workplace
In order for those with disabilities to sustain (keep) continued employment, there must be accessibility and support in the workplace. There is no government department with sole (only) responsibility to enforce the ADA. Individuals may bring their own action against an employer via the EEOC or mediation but must engage in private litigation if those supports are not available. The ability for the ADA to be interpreted (understood) in many different ways across the states is an issue for people with disabilities. It is thus up to the person being discriminated against to do something about it, but they need resources, money, and connections to do this, which isn’t always available. Those with disabilities don’t always know what accommodations to ask for due to lack of information and sometimes lack of intention from an employer to provide it. We understand that often job supports are temporary due to lack of resources by the employer or service organization, but this creates access issues and civil rights violations. Accessibility features and the necessary supports need to be on offer or otherwise available without needing to ask for it.
People On the Go of Maryland believes Self Directed services is an important service model for many people. There are gaps between available services in that providers can offer more benefits to their employees in the traditional model than those in self direction. People On the Go believes that there shouldn’t be any competition between the two models and that there should be equal opportunities for all people with disabilities. It is important that individual/ employer authority be maintained. An individual's staff person should not be seen as a documenter but should be primarily maintained in a support role. Similar to this, People On the Go believes any training opportunities offered to individuals and families should be optional and not mandatory. Likewise, any revisions made to self direction must involve input from all affected parties. This includes individuals, families, and other stakeholders.
People On the Go believes that it is incredibly important to maintain a healthy and cooperative relationship with 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. There must be continued partnership between the police and those with disabilities and thus there needs to be more funding for police training and education with an emphasis on de-escalation. There also needs to be more funding for the Ethan Saylor Alliance, more funding and support for equipment to facilitate communication, and more awareness of police relations with marginalized groups and the intersectionality with their disability and other aspects (parts) of their identity. This also includes different aspects of one’s disability identity.
As previously discussed, People On the Go Maryland believes that officer training with a focus on de-escalation techniques needs to be a primary focus. If 911 registries are to be considered, they must be 100 percent voluntary and non-renewable. This means that any information on an individual with a disability would be deleted from governmental systems after one year, assuming that an individual took no action to renew. Individuals under a guardian must be able to opt out if they want to, and we will oppose any attempts to place physical designations on ID cards and other forms of identification. See full policy statement for additional details (coming soon).