People with disabilities experience ableism, discrimination, invalidation, and microaggressions to institutional barriers every day. As a first-generation Latinx, Queer, and Disabled undergraduate student, I have always been concerned with the intersectional impact I could make on the disability community. While attending Cal Poly Pomona and studying communication and public relations, I discovered the power of storytelling and how it can be leveraged to influence, empower, and inspire an equitable world for the disability community. I plan to use strategic communication to end the stigmatization people with disabilities face, acknowledge and celebrate the disability identity, and encourage dialogue and conversations to normalize the disability experience.
I advocate for mental health access and disability justice because of my personal experiences with different disabilities ranging from cognitive and mental health to my family’s background of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and mental health. The inclusion of the stories and experiences of this community in the media is essential for representation and cultural impact. I will lift up underrepresented stories that inspire people and amplify their voices in the mainstream media. As a lifelong advocate of and for the disability community, I will always fight for cultural, social, and institutional change.
It is important to continue advocating for people with disabilities to receive equal healthcare coverage. Thankfully, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the comprehensive health care reform law enacted in March 2010, proved to be a milestone for the disability community by making affordable health coverage available to more people, regardless of their health status or history. We need to continue to make health coverage accessible and equitable.
Persons with disabilities are the world’s largest minority group. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one in seven people across the globe —15 percent of the world’s population, accounting for more than one billion individuals—live with some form of disability. It is no secret that people with disabilities experience a lack of healthcare and quality services. There is evidence and research that people with disabilities will experience poorer health on average than those without disabilities. Difficulties in accessing healthcare, vulnerable living conditions, and adverse health behaviors. This is precisely why more people, especially those with disabilities need to sign up for health coverage, because, simply put, it opens access to a range of care.
Since people with disabilities experience a plethora of socioeconomic, cultural, and political barriers, it is crucial we keep programs like the ACA alive to ensure more people with disabilities have access to affordable healthcare. As a disability advocate, I ask you to consider and keep people with disabilities in mind as you write, review, and pass laws. Your consideration can make a huge impact on the disability community, especially as it relates to people with disabilities receiving the treatment they need. This will create a better world for people with disabilities.
Zane Landin is currently an undergraduate student in California at Cal Poly Pomona studying Communication and Public Relations. He presently serves on Young Invisibles’s National Youth Advisory Board (NYAB).