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Providing information, education, and training to build knowledge, develop skills, and change attitudes that will lead to increased independence, productivity, self determination, integration and inclusion (IPSII) for people with developmental disabilities and their families.

Joni Eareckson Tada Continues Her Advocacy Work
January 9, 2004

AGOURA HILLS, CALIFORNIA--Friday's edition of Christianity Today featured a story about Joni Eareckson Tada.

Tada is a nationally-known artist, writer, actor, and public speaker. She hosts a daily Christian radio program and has operated her own non-profit, Joni and Friends, since 1979.

Tada, who is now in her mid-50s, broke her neck at age 17. Since then, she has become an outspoken advocate for people with disabilities, including acting on the National Council on Disability when the Americans with Disabilities Act became law.

"It's a schizophrenic society we live in," she said. "It's like, let's pass the Americans with Disabilities Act, let's create equal access, let's reauthorize the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and then let's also pass a state initiative that allows physicians to give someone with a disability three grams of Phenobarbital if that's his wish. There are too many Jack Kevorkians out there rubbing their hands and wanting to assist you with your death wish."

"There's such a huge premise in this society that you're better off dead than disabled. People have such huge fundamental fears of disability."

Tada traveled to Florida in October to be with Terri Schiavo's parents and supporters, just before Terri's feeding tube was removed.

"I can't explain it, I just had to be there," she explained. "This was so important to the lives of thousands of Americans with disabilities. I had to be there to stand with the parents and bring as much attention as I could rally to this case, helping people to understand that this is a bias against disability."

"The media will convey it as an end-of-life story: Why don't you just let her die?," she said of Schiavo's situation. "That's not the point. She's not terminally ill. She's not brain dead. She's disabled. Like many disabled people, she is unable to tell us what future she'd prefer."

"Should we not err on the side of caution, and on the side of life?"

"A Heaven-made Activist" (Christianity Today)
"Joni Eareckson Tada joins vigil for Terri Schiavo" ( October 14, 2003)
Joni and Friends


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