INDIANAPOLIS - The 21st annual Indiana Governor’s Council for People with Disabilities conference is being held this week in Indianapolis, and its theme is the 25th anniversary of the landmark Americans With Disabilities Act.
The theme of this year’s conference “ADA at 25: Moving Forward, Looking Back” marks how far the disability rights movement has come.
Keynote speaker Lawrence Carter-Long, public affairs specialist with the National Council on Disability, told the group of more than 300 that people with disabilities have the political power to make change.
"Don’t be afraid of the word, don’t be afraid of the community," Carter-Long said. "I was 35 years old before I became part of the disability community, and other people shouldn’t wait that long."
Carter-Long, who has cerebral palsy, grew up in Indiana and was inspired to become an activist after a screening of 'Million Dollar Baby,' a movie where one of the characters becomes disabled after a boxing match. He says film has the power to change people.
"It can give you a glimpse of somebody’s experience that you might not have had, and open your eyes to another way of being," Carter-Long said. "And you can look at that and say 'How does that relate to me?' and maybe expand your way of thinking."
The two-day conference kicked off with a film festival featuring movies by and about people with disabilities. It also features speakers and workshops covering topics related to independence and public policy for Hoosiers with disabilities.