At a recent State House gathering of constituents who are blind and their advocates, state Senator Mike Barrett, D-Lexington, was named Legislator of the Year for his commitment to people who are blind or visually impaired. Barrett recently served as Senate Chair of the Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities.
“Senator Barrett has made it a priority to reach out to all groups of people with disabilities, including those with blindness and deafblindness,” said Kim Charlson, Director of the Perkins Library. “He’s a true advocate and a real friend to people with disabilities.”
“Senator Barrett’s long and consistent advocacy for individuals of all ages who are blind and visually-impaired has been extremely instrumental in ensuring the resources are in place so that much needed services can be rendered,” said Joseph F. Abely, President of The Carroll Center for the Blind.
In front of the packed house, Barrett urged support for legislation he’s filed to eliminate health disparities along the lines of race, ethnicity and disability. Health disparities are differences in the prevalence and severity of diseases and health conditions, as well as differences in access to health care.
Barrett noted that individuals with disabilities are more than twice as likely to report that costs have been a barrier to obtaining health care. Nationwide data shows that health disparities are even more severe for people of color who have disabilities. Barrett’s proposal would create an Office of Health Equity focused on tackling the problem.
“Many of us, as we age, will develop disabilities of our own,” Barrett said, noting that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reports that in the next 30 years the number of adults with vision difficulties will double, due to our aging population. “The question becomes, what are we going to do for the growing number of us with vision impairments or other disabilities?”