Speaker Series on Disability Advocacy Kicks Off

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COLUMBIA -  One of the main sponsors behind the Americans with Disabilities Act was in Columbia Wednesday to kick off a series of question and answer sessions with Mid-Missouri's disabled. Former U.S. Representative Tony Coelho of California came to Columbia to help educate the community about disabilities rights and updated advocates on upcoming legislative initiatives.

"The most important part is to get people involved," Coelhl said.

He went on to encourage advocates to fight for issues that are important for those in the disability community.

Roughly 70 people attend Wednesday's speech. Among those attending was Kaye Mallory. She went to the first in a series of four sessions to learn about disabilities rights since she is now confined to a wheelchair. She said the talk raised her awareness about the the importance of feeling comfortable in the workplace.

"I don't think there is enough handicap access in Columbia. Sometimes I get stuck or can't go in places," Mallory said. She hopes the series will improve the community as a whole by opening up the lines of communication about these issues.

The speaker series will continue with a memorial ceremony Thursday at Stephens Lake Park for a local woman who was a major advocate of disability rights in Mid-Missouri.