Well, the second time Minnesota hosted the Super Bowl has come and gone. The underdog Philadelphia Eagles beat the New England Patriots 41–33, which took away some of the sting from the Eagles victory over the Vikings two weeks earlier. People always pay attention to the Super Bowl commercials, and there were some excellent commercials that included people with disabilities this year. The encouraging thing is that many of those commercials weren’t about people with disabilities; they just included us—in a crowd, in the family, in society. That’s some kind of progress.
If by the time you get to this column you’ve read the article by the Board of Directors on page 1 you know that we need your help. We are seeking the support of the entire community; the sustainability of Access Press depends on your individual support. Around 70 percent of Access Press income is earned from advertising. So, we need the other 30 percent from our readers and from generous philanthropic funding. Seventeen years ago, when I started working at Access Press as the executive director and editor, charitable financing was much easier to secure. And in the beginning, I had Donna McNamara and Jeff Nygaard helping me learn the ropes. Donna is a very talented grant writer and manager of nonprofits. She was excellent at teaching me as much as she could about procuring funding from philanthropic organizations. Jeff is a great journalist who taught me ways to do research for a story and all the ways to look at different ideas and to make information more readable and understandable. Those strategies have taken us a long way, but the shoestring we’ve been running on is getting thinner. We need Velcro.
Over the next few years, I hope that we (Jane McClure, Dawn Frederick, Kent Fordyce, In-Fin Tuan, Michelle Hegarty and I) can likewise start teaching others how to run Access Press for the next couple decades. Access Press needs the perspectives of new, young writers and (eventually) an editor who can bring plenty of forward-looking energy and serve the disability community in new ways. We have a new generation that is post-Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). They have grown up with a different view of how things should be in our society, and they haven’t had to fight for every curb cut, ramp and accessible technology. But they want to undertake new challenges and achieve new wins.
We also have new, younger legislators who too often see things from an older, pre-ADA view, and the community needs new tactics for lobbying those up-and-coming policymakers. We have new and affordable technology just around the corner that could change many lives in the disability community. Universal Design is becoming a goal that is being incorporated into everyone’s everyday lives. People are looking increasingly at smart homes, and smart home and personal technologies are becoming much more affordable. Transportation options are rapidly changing, and they say that driverless cars and public transport are just around the corner. Even at last week’s Super Bowl, visitors had an opportunity to test out a driverless shuttle on Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis. More and more people are working remotely or at home, and technology is allowing people of all abilities to be more productive and valuable to every business. As more people with disabilities find professional employment, our caregivers could be recognized as support professionals and offered a livable wage (with the right legislation). Who knows—given the speed of medical technology advancements, there may even be treatments and therapies that will fulfill the promise that some medical professionals made to me 40-plus years ago: that science will soon eliminate or repair many physical disabilities. In the meantime, there are revolutionary assistive technologies that can make disability a moot point, while our tenaciousness and determination continue to give us more desired work skills than many able-bodied folks.
If you have an idea that can help Access Press move more sustainably into the 21st century, contact any of us on the staff or the Board of Directors. We’re eager to hear your ideas—and your needs. Access Press has been a community resource for 27 years, and we don’t want to stop now, just as we’re reaching full maturity. We’re eager to listen to any insights or suggestions. And if you know of some unique fundraising options we could try or have knowledge of foundations whose priorities align with ours, let us know.
See you next month, and before then online and on the phone. Share your views about what Access Press means to you, and how it can thrive in the future. Next month, we’ll be back with more information in preparation for our upcoming legislative session.