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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

An Update from the NCIL ADRC Subcommittee: Disability & Access At 2015 AIRS Conference

The 2015 Alliance of Information and Referral Systems (AIRS) Conference took place in Dallas, Texas. The AIRS Conference is a great experience that features information specialists from 211s, Area Agencies on Aging, Veterans Affairs, and now Centers for Independent Living coming together and talking about common issues, problem solving, and networking.

Mary Margret Moore, Ericka Reil, and Lindsay Baran where there as presenters this year, and attended various workshops and planned events that AIRS hosted. But all came back with the same conclusion: access for people with disabilities was not well planned. There were times that the accessible doors to the conference area were broken or locked; and the workshop room did not allow room for wheelchairs other mobility aides. The luncheon area had poor acoustics and did not allow room for people with wheelchairs or other mobility aides.

However, when NCIL presented, people stopped and listened because the information was new to them. They were very interested in what NCIL was and wanted more information on how to include NCIL in their organizations. People seemed very hungry for disability information.

This seemed to really ring true when Mary Margret Moore and Ericka Reil presented on disability. Even though many of the people in the audience knew a lot of the information, they still wanted it. People approached them after the workshop, in the hallways and outside, asking questions and thanking them for being there and inviting them to their state to present. Each and every time, they were encouraged to talk to their local CIL and include them if they already had not.

The next AIRS Conference happens in St. Louis, Missouri and Lindsey, Mary Margret, and Ericka hope to be back again.