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National Service and Inclusion Project

Inclusion: The active engagement of people with disabilities as service members in all levels of national and community service
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Photo of Tammy Dalaba Participants: Tammy Dalaba

Program: Tammy currently volunteers with and hopes to join Self Advocacy /AmeriCorps, New York
Service: Educational public presentations on disability awareness.

Interview with Tammy Dalaba, January, 2001

TOPICS:

  1. INTRODUCTION
  2. ADVICE TO PROGRAMS
  3. DISABILITY AWARENESS
  4. INCLUSION

1. INTRODUCTION:              real audio clip icon

TAMMY DALABA: HI, I’m Tammy Dalaba. I’m a young 32 year old woman. I live in Saratoga Springs, and I live independently.

EMILY MILLER: How did you get involved with AmeriCorps? What’s your involvement?

TAMMY DALABA: I got involved with AmeriCorps through Saratoga ARC. Basically, the reason why I joined AmeriCorps is to tell people my story and to make people aware that people with disabilities are people too, just like anyone else, and be able to tell my story and have people listen to me, and to be able to help anybody else [who is] maybe going to go down the road I’ve already been down. And to assist in any way that I can.

2. ADVICE TO PROGRAMS:              real audio clip icon

EMILY MILLER: If the Corporation for National Service was to ask you what they should do to increase the participation of people with disabilities in national service programs, what would you say?

TAMMY DALABA: If that is going to be done I think, for a lot of people, including myself, they need to do something about public transportation issues and ways for people in wheelchairs with disabilities that are unable to drive, to get around independently. Because I think that would make a whole lot of difference in people participating because most people are adults , and they either don’t want a family member bringing them; or they don’t live with the family member; or they want to be able to do it independently like they do everything else. So I think if they worked on that, it would increase morale too.

3. DISABILITY AWARENESS:              real audio clip icon

EMILY MILLER: Is there anything else you want to say about barriers that people with disabilities, or you personally, have experienced in terms of working?

TAMMY DALABA: I am unable to drive because of my disability. I have Spastic CP {Cerebral Palsy} so I have to rely on someone else or public transportation to get me anywhere and that’s a really strong barrier for me. And I think for a lot of people in my same shoes have that same problem. You end up riding public buses for 2 and 1/2 hours for something that would take half an hour in a car. And there aren’t bathrooms on the public buses and that stirs up other problems and its kind of a domino effect. So transportation is a really big issue for a lot of people.

4. INCLUSION:              real audio clip icon

EMILY MILLER: Why is it important to make programs accessible to people with disabilities why do you think it’s important to include them?

TAMMY DALABA: That’s where [Self Advocacy/] AmeriCorps comes in. [Self Advocacy/]AmeriCorps is kind of an awareness thing. To make other people realize that are different from disabled people or so-called, quote unquote, normal people realize that a disabled person can do exactly the same thing an able-bodied person can do, if not exactly the same way, sometimes even better. You have to think about it, if you were non-disabled, would you want to get through a door? Yeah, you would? Well, so would that disabled person. Widen the door a little bit or put a ramp instead of stairs.

Nobody knows their own story better than the disabled person that’s lived the story so I just think its important for another person to listen to that person, and take what they say, and know that they know what they’re talking about.

I will just close by saying that disabled people are people too, and I think it’s really important that other people listen to a disabled person just like they would anybody else, and give the respect that disabled people deserve too because that’s all disabled people want, just like any body else in society.

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©The National Service Inclusion Project (NSIP) is a training and technical assistance provider on disability inclusion. NSIP partners with the Association on University Centers on Disability, National Council on Independent Living, Association on Higher Education and Disability and National Down Syndrome Congress to build connections between disability organizations and all CNCS grantees, including national directs, to increase the participation of people with disabilities in national service.