by Ligia Zúñiga
My name is Ligia Zúñiga, I am from San Mateo, California (the San Francisco Bay Area). I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Human Services with an emphasis in Counseling and a Master’s in Public Administration from Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont, California. My work is centered around policy and legislation affecting women of color with disabilities. A lot of what I do is dedicated to the access of information, education, and services around sexuality, reproductive justice, and reproductive health. Serving on different commissions and boards locally and statewide has allowed me to advocate for systemic changes while keeping any issues related to disability visible and in the forefront of social change.
Having my care attendant included in this trip made my experience more comfortable, allowing me to feel secure in knowing I would be able to participate in the conference. Some of us with disabilities depend on assistance for every part of everyday life, making it impossible to participate without it. It also helped me travel safely, ensuring that I was being transferred properly onto the airline seat, and that all of my equipment and personal belongings arrived safely, including my wheelchair. The hotel room that was booked was all accessible. It had a roll-in shower, enough space to move around in, and enough room for my attendant as well. Having hotel rooms that are equipped for different types of accessibility needs allows me to travel comfortably not forcing me to awkwardly modify my routine. The World Institute on Disability made sure I had the proper shower chair I needed to be able to take a shower comfortably and appropriately.
Disability is so important in policy because of the intersectionality of all of our communities. Being the largest minority group in the world, systemic changes must include individuals with disabilities.
This experience was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had. I have always been proud of my community as a Latinx woman, but I left with a greater sense of pride and closeness to my heritage. The intersectionality of my heritage and my identity as a Latinx woman with a disability hopefully brought comfort and courage for others to identify as having a disability if they have not previously been empowered to do so. Professionally, I made so many great connections and new networks that can boost visibility, intersectionality, and inclusion to the next level.
The Conference Accessibility Initiative with JPMorgan Chase & WID is extremely important for individuals with disabilities to be able to be visible and participate in gatherings of organizations, community leaders, and policymakers creating change and making decisions for all of our communities. Nothing about us without us! We must be present to be included!
Would you like to be a Disability Ambassador with WID and JP Morgan & Chase? Applications for 2020 are now available!
To read more about our Disability Ambassadors’ experiences at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Leadership Conference 2019, follow either link below:
For more Disability Ambassador blogs, check out our Conference Accessibility Initiative 2019 page.
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