Abilene city council considers new citizen advisory board for people with disabilities

ABILENE, Texas (KTAB) - The Abilene City Council will be voting on the creation of a new board, after eliminating other boards throughout the summer. This new board is a citizen advisory board for people with disabilities. That includes all types of disability, both physical and mental, giving those individuals a chance to provide valuable input.

City Manager Robert Hanna says that he expects this to pass because it represents a positive change for the city. He explains that this previously voiceless group will be able to provide information that would otherwise not be taken into consideration.

He says, "It's one thing for me to read a statute and say, 'OK, this is what's required'. It's another thing for somebody who may be in a wheelchair to say, 'This is what it says, but this is how it actually works'. There's an experiential knowledge that I just don't have, and so I want to make sure that we as a city are able to touch that experiential knowledge and learn from it."

JoAnne Fluke works at Disability in Action and remembers discussing plans for the disability community with Anthony Williams during his mayoral campaign, prompting him to support this board upon election.

Fluke reminisces about Williams visiting her office at Disability in Action, where he asked her what things she would like to see done. "I just asked him, 'What are you doing for the disability community and the vets?' And he goes, 'Well, what do you think I should be doing?'"

If the council does vote the board into existence, it can set events in motion that lead to long term benefits.

Fluke says, "It does bring the disability voice forward, but it also starts to break down many barriers that many cities may have when it comes to inclusion."

Disability in Action's mission is "Building stronger communities through the full inclusion of people with disabilities" and the creation of this board does fall in line with that ideal, giving everyone equal standing.

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