Declaration Commentary by Renee Pietrangelo

Declaration Commentary by Renee Pietrangelo, Ph.D.

We are in the midst of a renaissance; visible in such trends as collaborative crowdsourcing. People are organizing themselves from ground-level up. What’s taking shape is a more individualized society that is richer and more diverse. This is a bonanza for people with cognitive disabilities — but only if they have full and equal access.

There’s no question that optimal experiences for each of us add up to a sense of participation in determining the content of life. Surely fulfillment and happiness are contingent on the level of participation. Individual identity is powerfully shaped by group allegiances and collaboration.

Never before will being connected mean so much. In a world where we are increasingly seen as personal brands of our capabilities and unique abilities, the honest and earnest exchange of information will be paramount to our success as engaged citizens of the world. The world is increasingly mobile, and that means that our work and socialization is increasingly interoperable.

It’s critical that we leverage this interoperability to the fullest in order to assure communication, coordination, cooperation/sharing and collaboration across the board — something of paramount import to people with cognitive disabilities. How can it be anything but the supreme imperative to ensure the rights of people with cognitive disabilities to technology and information access?

So…what’s the bottom line? If I had to pick one word to describe the most essential human requirement for the dynamic and paradigm-busting future facing us, that word would be courage. Courage must be a core value. It takes courage to shape the future. The Declaration is a courageous document. As its endorsers, we must apply courageous tactics to assure its realization.

Renee Pietrangelo, Ph.D., is the former Chief Executive Officer of American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR) in Alexandria, VA.