The Access Press May 2020 issue would typically be an issue commemorating our 30 years of bringing the news to Minnesota’s disability community. But as we know all too well, the COVID-19 pandemic means that these are not typical times.
Our newspaper was founded in 1990, the same year that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law. That was a time of radical change, uncertainty and hope for people with disabilities throughout the United States. The ADA marked a major step in our civil rights movement.
Access Press’ first issue also marked a major step. Our newspaper began as a means for the community to be informed, find common ground and organize around important issues.
Minnesotans with disabilities and their advocacy groups were planning a big ADA anniversary celebration for July. We had hoped to celebrate our newspaper’s anniversary in conjunction with the ADA event.
Like many events, the ADA commemoration is postponed. Our hope is that it will be an even bigger and better event when it happens in July 2021.
Access Press and ADA Minnesota are feeling the same disappointment that graduating seniors in high schools, colleges and universities are feeling this spring of 2020. We have passed milestones and overcome millstones in our journeys to earn a diploma, or for us, to celebrate 30 years of greater accessibility for living, learning, working and for being visible and valued.
We were looking forward to celebrating the ADA and Access Press 30th anniversaries with a big bang. We planned to honor our recently retired executive director Tim Benjamin for 20 years of successful, compassionate leadership.
Just as so many groups are doing, we can postpone the galas and in-person events to 2021. We need to stay safe.
Just as we celebrate the ADA, stay with us in 2020 as we celebrate Tim’s dedication to Access Press by sharing decades of highlights during our upcoming editions and online Access Press still plans to start marking its three decades of history in the weeks ahead our website at www.accesspress. org and in print.
It’s often said that news is the first rough draft of history and especially in these times, it’s worth reflecting on our rough drafts over 30 years.
But we must set history aside. We need to devote as much space as possible in this issue and upcoming issues to our pandemic coverage. We also must work with the advertisers and sponsors who bring us the newspaper every month.
During the peacetime emergency in Minnesota, we at Access Press have made many changes. We are working virtually and not in an office. We cover meetings and legislative hearings online, through meeting apps or conference calls.
We have had to make changes to where we drop off copies of the newspaper. We are looking at ways to further reduce our spending and increase revenue.
One way to help us is through charitable donations under the recently passed CARES Act. The CARES Act adds a new above-the-line deduction that allows an individual who does not itemize to deduct up to $300 of cash contributions to a qualified charity. This is in addition to the standard deduction. Ask your tax professional about this deduction.
Beyond tax-deductible donations to Access Press, here are other steps to help us in this time
We are happy to mail newspapers to our readers around the region. We welcome new subscribers, at the rate of $30 per year. You may also donate so that we can provide newspaper subscriptions to low-income readers.
We currently face a challenge of needing to update our individual subscriber list. If you get the paper, and wish to continue to receive it, check in with us and let us know the last time you paid for a subscription. Subscriptions are due annually.
If you are getting the paper and no longer wish to receive it, please let us know so we can take you off of the mailing list. If you know of a subscriber who has passed away, we need to know that, too.
Reach us with subscription questions by calling 651- 644-2133 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
We cannot emphasize enough that there is a huge need to support our advertisers and sponsors, as they help bring you Access Press each month.
Many of our advertisers are facing challenging times. They need your help now more than ever, especially service providers in Greater Minnesota. Many are taking donations. Others need medical supplies, especially masks and personal protective equipment.
We were struck during a recent conference call including the Greater Minnesota agencies and comments about staff and their clients lacking basic supplies, such as liquid hand soap and toilet paper. This is not only a public health issue; it is a matter of dignity and proper care.
We are sharing these needs on our Facebook page.
We know these are tough times for our community. Many of us who live with disabilities were all too aware of the challenges and sadness of isolation. We lived with that long before the pandemic hit. Now more than ever, we need each other.
Looking forward to the next 30 years of Access Press and wishing you safety and health.
Jane McClure, Managing Editor
Kay Willshire, Access Press Board President