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

An Update from the NCIL ADA / Civil Rights Subcommittee: Don’t Roll Back Our Rights!

A NCIL member holds a sign above her head that reads "Don't Roll Back Our Rights" and "Our hearts with Tokyo" During the NCIL Conference in Washington DC, one of the main points of focus for NCIL’s ADA / Civil Rights Subcommittee was the attack on our civil rights taking place in Washington as we speak. It was exciting that some took us literally and started plastering the city with the “Don’t Roll Back Our Rights” stickers that were handed out to everyone at the Conference. But where do we go from here?

The Don’t Roll Back our Rights statement is the beginning of a campaign, which is perfect for where we are in this political season. As we focus on revving up the disability community with RevUP actions taking place across the country, educating our community on our responsibility to register people to vote and the power of the disability vote, the vision of “Don’t Roll Back Our Rights” becomes more clear.

H.R. 3765 and similar bills are dangerous to our community, particularly as they gain momentum in the House. When we started to focus on these bills right after their introduction, many folks in Washington thought that they would gather no momentum. We didn’t listen and we’re proud of it, because these dangerous bills are indeed gaining momentum.

Don't Roll Back Our Rights StickersThis is the perfect time to turn our slogan into a campaign. Many of our legislators returned home to their districts just prior to our visit to Washington to work on their own campaigns and to help in others. This means we all have more access to them than we do during other years. Taking this into mind, now is the time to book meetings with your national legislators in the House and Senate when they are home. Fifteen minutes of face time is all it takes to educate them on our campaign.

During this time, legislators are crossing their districts hosting forums and campaigning for their jobs. SHOW UP! The more they see us the more likely we are to have our voices heard. During community forums and campaign speeches many legislators leave time for Q&A. You don’t even need an appointment! For a listing of these activities, visit your legislators’ campaign websites. (Many legislators have campaign websites, separate from the websites listed on and Better yet, call their district office or their campaign office to see when they will be in your area so you can attend an event. Make a point to ask if the event will be in an accessible location and if reasonable accommodations will be provided.

If you have an idea of when they will be campaigning in your area, offer to host them at your CIL! 

  • Then do a bit of outreach and work to have constituents with disabilities attend and be prepared for the visit.
  • Consider reaching out to others who may be running against them and find a time to invite them.
  • Consider hosting an educational forum and invite all potential candidates to attend.
    • Come up with the questions you would like them to answer.

In closing, as we build our campaign, don’t underestimate the value of meeting with district office staff. Set a time that you can go into their office with a copy of the 2016 NCIL Legislative & Advocacy Priorities Guide (PDF or plain text). Go through the priorities. Become a resource to your legislator. It all starts there!

Remember, a campaign is not a single event but a series of events over time. It’s about persistence and showing up! As Justin Dart encouraged all of us “Get involved with politics as if your life depends on it, because it does”. Exercise your rights this campaign season!


  1. Judy Blunk says:

    I wouldn’t want anyone to roll back on my rights. I don’t think anyone else should roll back on anyone elses rights. We are all created equal so, we should all be treated equal and NOT roll back on anyone’s rights. How would you like it, if anyone took your rights away. I know I wouldn’t like it at all. I am asking you to please VOTE NO on H.R. 3765.

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