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One in four of us lives with a disability. More than half a million Minnesotans are disabled. Disabilities can be obvious or they can be invisible.
Life with disabilities means many challenges. It can be difficult to find needed resources. Advocating for oneself can be daunting.
Access Press was founded in 1990 and exists to promote the social inclusion and civil rights of people with disabilities by providing a forum for news, features and commentary to benefit people who are often invisible and marginalized in mainstream society.
Access Press is also meant to serve as a resource for people with disabilities, their family members, employers, advocacy groups and other allies. We are Disability 101 for many people.
In 1990, we didn’t have the Internet. We didn’t have social media. Having a fax machine was a big deal. Community organizing took the form of phone trees – when we’d call an assigned list of people and give an update. Or we had newsletters and later, newspapers.
Access Press was one of a group of neighborhood and community newspapers in the Twin Cities that became nationally known. We were among the first nonprofit newspapers in the country. Our newspapers were founded to cover issues important to specific urban neighborhoods, to BIPOC communities and in the case of Access Press, to the disability community.
Newspapers like Access Press gave communities a voice that did not exist in mainstream media. Coverage of disability issues in 1990 was largely limited to “pity stories” about disabled people. Issues important to our basic rights and our lives got scant if any news coverage. If there was coverage, we were not speaking for ourselves.
Again, one in four us becomes disabled in our lifetime. Disability transforms our lives, in ways we could not imagine. We may lose employment, housing and the ability to be part of our greater communities. Our news coverage provides information on disability issues that don’t get attention in mainstream media.
Our From our Community section gives voice to issues and to people who are otherwise powerless. Here is one of their stories.
In 2017 Joy Rindels-Hayden fell and was injured when a Metro Transit bus ramp malfunctioned. She called us and we invited her to share her story, in her own words.
After years of effort, the 2023 Minnesota Legislature passed a requirement that Metro Transit drivers receive training on helping people with disabilities and limited mobility to enter and leave buses. The training would cover scenarios in which access is made unsafe by snow, ice or other obstructions – just like the situation that caused Joy to sustain additional disabilities.
Joy is 87 years old. She didn’t think she’d live long enough to get the bill passed. Joy called to tell us the bill had finally passed, and while the work was hers, Access Press was proud to have given her a platform and a way to share her story.
This is what we do. And this is why it is important. But newspapers are at risk. Since 2004, the United States has lost one-fourth – 2,100 – of its newspapers. This includes more than 70 dailies and more than 2,000 weeklies or non-daily papers.
That’s why your support at any level matters. Thank you.