‘Nothing About Us Without Us’ – Qualified Candidates Sought for New County Committee to Address Disability Issues, End Ableism
The Disability Community Accountability Advisory Board will be a public forum that guides the work of the County and the Office of Disability Affairs
SANTA CLARA COUNTY, Calif. – The County of Santa Clara is seeking members of the public – particularly those within the disabled community – to serve on a new advisory group that will hold regular meetings on disability issues and ultimately guide the work of the County and the Office of Disability Affairs.
The goal is for the Disability Community Accountability Advisory Board to include representatives from a broad representation including individuals who are Deaf/hard of hearing, blind/visually disabled, physically disabled, developmentally/intellectually disabled, as well as advocates and caregivers including families, parents and community-based organization workers.
“One by one we must start removing barriers for everyone, from autistic children to adults who cannot walk or see,” said Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez, who championed the creation of the Office of Disability Affairs in 2022. “The county needs to include disabled children and adults in all of its equity policies and programs. People with disabilities are more likely to experience poverty, food insecurity, health problems, discrimination and exclusion from built environments and inadequate social services.”
The purpose behind the Office of Disability Affairs and the new advisory board is to ensure that the County is a leader in equity inclusion and accessibility for individuals with disabilities. The advisory group will focus on the creation of inclusive policies, with an advisory body made up of people with disabilities and advocates in the spirit of the disability rights principle: “Nothing About Us Without Us.”
The Office of Disability Affairs recently hired a new manager. Le Toudjida Allara – who is originally from Chad – has been a cofounder and executive director of Strategies To Advance and Network Deaf Africans for Ubuntu, Inc. (STANDU), an organization that promotes deaf education in Africa. He is also a board member of the Friends of Buea School for the Deaf and global affairs manager of the Society Without Barriers-Côte d’Ivoire. He has a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Gallaudet University, Bachelor’s degrees in Political Science and International Studies, with double minors in Deaf Studies and French from Gallaudet University – the premiere deaf university in the United States. In another arena, Allara is also a FIFA-certified soccer agent.
Mr. Allara noted the creation of a diverse and representative advisory board is a top priority.
“If the goal is to shape policy, and it is, then we need to collect the thoughts of the people for whom the policy is being shaped,” noted Allara. “I look forward to working with all sectors of the disability community and our community partners to best eliminate ableism in all its forms.”
One in four adults in the United States is living with some form of disability. That’s about 61 million people, including more than 3 million children. Disability cuts across all demographic groups and identities, and ties into other forms of marginalization such as racism and gender bias.
Those interested in serving on the panel – and who are in the disability community – are encouraged to self-nominate at https://desj.sccgov.org/disability-community-advisory-group. Six meetings will be held throughout 2024 and committee members will receive an annual $1,000 stipend. Nominations open November 1 and will close December 4, 2023.
ABOUT THE COUNTY OF SANTA CLARA OFFICE OF DISABILITY AFFAIRS
The County of Santa Clara, Office of Disability Affairs (ODA) is part of the Office of the County Executive in the Division of Equity and Social Justice. As a local government policy office, ODA works to create bridges to communities in an effort to end ableism in Santa Clara County and influence others to do the same. Our vision is that all people in Santa Clara County can participate equitably in every aspect of public and private life, with bodily autonomy and self-determination, and with nobody left behind. All bodies and minds are recognized as unique, essential, and whole. People with disabilities are integral community members.
ABOUT THE COUNTY OF SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA
The County of Santa Clara government serves a diverse, multicultural population of 1.9 million residents in Santa Clara County, Calif., making it more populous than 14 states in the United States. The County provides essential services to its residents, including public health protection, environmental stewardship, medical services through the County of Santa Clara Health System, child and adult protection services, homelessness prevention and solutions, roads, park services, libraries, emergency response to disasters, protection of minority communities and those under threat, access to a fair criminal justice system, and many other public benefits.