Disabled Community Strives to Make Voice Heard

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JEFFERSON CITY - Hundreds of people with disabilities and their advocates gathered at the Capitol Wednesday to rally the recognition of their civil rights. Speakers at the rally included the governor, legislators and disability advocates.

Participants continuously chanted "take note, we vote" to celebrate their right to have a voice in public policy. After the rally, they dispersed to visit with individual legislators. The coordinator of the event said the purpose isn't to protest, but to give legislators thanks where thanks are due.

Diane Southard participated in the event to support a recent bill by Rep. Rick Stream, R-Kirkwood. The bill would prohibit teachers from spanking any students receiving special education services in public schools. 

"For me, as a parent of a nine-year-old, who uses very little language, this is really important," Southard said. "When a child comes home with a bruise which could naturally come from a playground, when you have a child who can't tell you what happened, it always makes you a little uneasy when you see those things."

This was the 11th annual Disability Rights Legislative Day.