Logo of One Strong Voice ... of the disability community
One Strong Voice ... of the disability community


Cross-Disability[1] is a belief that people with different types of disabilities have more in common than not and that we all do better working together. It is a concept firmly founded on the principle that all people have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, regardless of age or ability.  Furthermore, we believe there is no hierarchy of disability and everyone has a right to be treated equally with respect for our strengths, skills and abilities, whatever those may be.  Cross-Disability holds value for everyone in a manner that does not discriminate, but rather incorporates a system of interdependence and mutual support as we work together to realize accessible, accommodating and inclusive communities.


Regardless of disability type, we all face civil rights and social justice issues. We all need jobs, health care, transportation, housing, etc.  We all want to be part of the community.  While people with specific disability types might have specific issues --we all need access.

Value Message:

Cross-Disability Engagement[2] is participation which allows PWD[3] to actively voice their opinions and unique perspective. It prioritizes a right to equal collaboration[4], collective participation[5], and respects the input of all people.  


Ask Message:

Without Cross-Disability involvement, we cannot guarantee that all voices are being heard or valued. We must demand accessible[6] and full contribution of stakeholders at all times, in all places; from the systems[7] we work with to the people with lived experience[8].  


Barrier Message:

When one disability is asked to represent all disabilities, less is accomplished and the hierarchy of disability[9] is reinforced. Without Cross-Disability unity, we risk division and disempowerment. Cross-Disability community participation cannot be realized when used as a contrived tool versus an authentic ask[10]… It can only be realized when PWD are valued[11], respected[12], and part of building solutions!


Vision Message:

Engaging and strengthening the commonalities[13] of the Cross-Disability community makes ALL systems more robust[14] and resilient[15]; and embraces the true spirit of the ADA[16]. Working together we find strength, power, and accomplishment. Everyone wins! Nothing about us, without us, ever

[1]Cross Disability: Engaging people who identify with having or experiencing a disability, such as but not limited to: mobility impairment, Blindness, Vision Loss, Deafness, Hearing Loss, Mental Illness, Physical Limitation, Speech and Language disorders, Brain Injury, Developmental/Intellectual, Cognitive and/or Learning, Chronic Illness, and other disabilities not necessarily categorized including visible and non-visible disabilities.

[2] Cross Disability Engagement: Participation which allows PWD to actively voice their opinions and unique perspective

[3]PWD (Person with Disabilities): refers to a person who: (1) has a major physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; OR (2) has a record of such impairment; OR (3) is regarded as having such impairment.

[4] Equal collaboration: Similar quantity, quality, and intent to work with others to do a task and to achieve shared goals

[5] Collective Participation: refers to action taken together by a group of people whose goal is to enhance their status and achieve a common objective – people thinking together

[6] Accessible: it must comply with the provisions of the ADA including but not limited to effective communication, a reasonable process to request modification of policies, practices and procedures, and full compliance with all regulations.

[7] Systems: Organized, purposeful structures that composed of interrelated and interdependent elements  available which continually interact in order to maintain or achieve shared goal. (educational, funding, health care, etc)

[8] People with lived experience: describes the first-hand accounts, knowledge, and impressions about the world gained through every day events living as a member of specific population, minority, or oppressed group.

[9] Hierarchy of disability: Any view of disability which promotes a view of “more” or “less” important than others

[10] Authentic Ask: Genuine and real probe with intent to procure information which will impact future process and discussion.

[11] Valued: Highly regarded

[12] Respected: active, objective  treatment, recognizing personhood and professionalism

[13] Commonalities: A sharing of features or characteristics in common; possession or manifestation of common attributes

[14] Robust –Strong, rich, healthy

[15] Resilient- Indicates ability to withstand struggles and flexibility to find solutions

[16] ADA- Civil Rights Bill passed in 1990 which ensures the right for an accessible society (both physical and attitudinal)


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