I now live in a residential home in Olympia, Washington. I am writing this to explain my physical and emotional journey through life. I want people to have a vision of what it was like for a person to grow up with a developmental disability in the 1950's. In this book, I write about growing up and being a pioneer, clearing the road to open doors for others with developmental disabilities.
I have advocated and participated in government legislation, such as public law 94-142, the right to an equal education for children with developmental disabilities act, and architectural barrier laws. I achieved this with the inspiration of a group in Oregon called People First, a self-advocacy group of people with developmental disabilities. I helped start a People First group of Olympia, Washington; later this inspired other chapters to begin in the Northwest. I worked on subcommittees to get people out of institutions and helped introduce and educate local government on how important it is and helped introduce and educate local government on how important it is for people with developmental disabilities to be integrated into their communities. Today, some people with developmental disabilities are living in the community of their choice in small group homes or low-income apartments with the help of the U.S. Department of Housing Urban Development (HUD).
I also participated in improving transportation for people with developmental disabilities that enables them to be more independent, which encourages them to get out into their communities, and that opens up employment opportunities. With the help of supported employment programs, people with disabilities are more likely to find a place in their community workplaces. There are more varied and interesting employment opportunities today, different and more rewarding than working behind closed doors in sheltered workshops.