United Spinal Association will bring over 100 wheelchair users to Washington, DC for the 10th annual Roll on Capitol Hill (ROCH) June 12 to 15 to meet with their Congressional representatives on key issues affecting the spinal cord injury and disorder (SCI/D) community.

ROCH is United Spinal’s annual flagship advocacy event, gathering the organization’s members and supporters to encourage elected officials to support policy initiatives that empower and promote the independence and quality of life of people with disabilities.

The event draws on the voices of grassroots disability rights advocates from around the country and their experiences on the local level fighting for civil rights, accessibility, social supports, and inclusion. 

“The disability rights movement is as old as the modern age, and still we fight. New advancements in society that benefit the majority often spur new inequities for people with disabilities. We’ve won major victories in navigating our cities’ buildings and transit systems—now it’s time to finish the project of full equality. Roll on Capitol Hill plays a significant role in reminding us of all of the work that we have to do—and it shows how powerful our community is when it’s united,” said Vincenzo Piscopo, president & CEO of United Spinal Association.

This year’s event will be hybrid, marking a return to face-to-face Capitol Hill visits since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, with a virtual option available for attendees who are unable to travel to Washington.

ROCH will focus on the following issues:

  • Supporting more robust SCI Model Systems funding to ensure that newly-injured individuals receive necessary healthcare and services
  • Ensuring passage of the Air Carrier Access Amendments Act and advocating for other protections for travelers with disabilities
  • Emphasizing the importance of personal care services to pursuing economic independence and mobility
  •  Advocating for Department of Veterans Affairs funding for automobile grants for disabled veterans that are necessary for community living
  • Seeking action on outdated and restrictive federal regulations that prevent all wheelchair users from having access to the wheelchair that’s right for them

On the evening of June 14th, ROCH will culminate in a Congressional Reception that will honor and celebrate Congressional leaders and core United Spinal advocates for their achievements in disability rights.

Congressman Robert C. Bobby Scott will receive the Outstanding Congressional Leadership Award for his leadership in introducing the Transformation to Competitive Integrated Employment Act (TCIEA), which prohibits wage discrimination against people with disabilities and provides for services and supports for people with disabilities who are employed in integrated work environments.

The first quadriplegic to serve in the US House of Representatives, Congressman James Langevin will receive the Congressional Lifetime Achievement Award, for his decades of service to the disability community, including his work on the ADA Amendments Act and the Affordable Care Act.

The Roll on Capitol Hill 2022 Advocate of the Year Award will go to Richard Bagby, who is the Director of United Spinal Association of Virginia. In particular, United Spinal is recognizing Bagby’s local advocacy around complex rehab technology (CRT) and opposing physician-assisted suicide, as well his role in establishing the Sheltering Arms Institute in Richmond, VA in 2020, a world-class rehabilitation hospital and research center which became a Spinal Cord Injury Model System not long after opening.

United Spinal will also recognize ROCH sponsors and allies who have provided invaluable support in promoting its mission and advocacy efforts.

[Source(s): United Spinal Association, PR Newswire]