Advocates eyeing bills that would increase accessibility, create protections for people living with disabilities
MARYLAND – Advocates for folks with disabilities are launching Developmental Disability Day Tuesday. It aims at promoting a number of bills in Maryland’s General Assembly. The bills are designed to protect people living with disabilities from being taken advantage of financially and uplift them as members of society.
One of those bills is Senate Bill 327. That bill would provide an avenue for legal recourse if someone financially exploits a person with disabilities who is buying a house, a car, or other big ticket items. Executive Director of the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Council Rachel London says protections like that are essential for the disability community. “Legislation that addresses civil causes for financial exploitation holds the financial institution or the mortgage company responsible and accountable instead of the person with the disability,” said London.
Other bills on the table include Senate Bill 61 and House Bill 321, which would require changing rooms to be installed in new and renovated state buildings. Plus, House Bill 423 would require all voters to use a ballot marking device that’s accessible for people with disabilities. “The big benefits of addressing this is that people can be fully integrated, they can meaningfully participate in their communities and they can work alongside people without disabilities,” said London.
Maryland’s State Senate recently passed Governor Larry Hogan’s COVID-19 relief bill, which would provide $5 million for developmental disability community providers to help with pandemic-related costs. London says this funding is essential because many providers are not currently able to meet state requirements for social distancing. “When the pandemic started, many of the DD community providers had to close day programs, and we had to make sure that we continue to have a very robust system of support for all the people with developmental disabilities in Maryland,” said London.