Disability Rights Advocates: Danielle Parson

By Megan Marmol, TRCF Outreach Intern

Danielle Parson is a Chicago native who now calls Pittsburgh home. She’s a graduate of The University of Illinois’ School of Communications, with over 12 years of experience in broadcast, print and online communications. Danielle serves her community well, actively volunteering with youth in Pittsburgh’s communities. Including, serving on the board for the Boys Scouts of America Laurel Highlands Council for the last three years and currently serves as the Director of Communications at ACHIEVA. 

How has the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) impacted you personally and the work you do professionally?

Having a loved one with a disability the ADA has made a considerable impact on my family in terms of job training, job skills and financial planning for my loved one. Without the ADA I’m confident her lifestyle would be completely different, most likely she would of grown up in an institution. For me personally, the ADA has made it possible that I don’t have to consider what things were like before the ADA. Instead I can focus on the future and making things more accessible, better support services and providing the most inclusive lifestyle possible for individuals with disabilities.

What impact do you see the ADA has on your local community?

The Disability Community is unique in Pittsburgh. Advocates in this community are well known throughout the city and have a strong impact on procedures and policy in this region. Pittsburgh has definitely worked hard to be an ADA compliant city, going much further than ramps, and curbs. There is of course more  work to do, but the ADA has helped make the Disability Community a strong community and has helped everyone in the city understand the importance of an inclusive environment.

What is one are you identify that still needs improvement?

Employment and Accessible housing are two areas that can use some improvement.

What do you want people with and without disability to know about your work and organization?

I would love for everyone everywhere to be aware of ACHIEVA and our services. And for organizations of the same nature to consider partnerships and program matches to provide comprehensive supports worldwide.

Give one all encompassing statement that summarizes the evolution of the passage of the ADA (the past, present, and future).

The signing of the ADA set the tone, started the conversation and made the issue relevant. In the present it will take the diligent educators and advocates of the disabilities  community to push barriers so the public does not see disability as a person in need of pity, a family in need of empathy or an easy defense for wrong doings. With more work, disability can in fact be a distinction that makes no difference.