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Disability civil rights have advanced significantly over the past 30 years—many children with disabilities are fully included in school classrooms; city sidewalks feature curb cuts and public buildings are ramped; civil rights laws have begun to level the playing field.

But most Americans don't understand disability as a civil and human rights issue. More often, the public face of disability is the brave person overcoming obstacles, and the question of why obstacles exist in the first place goes unasked.

People with disabilities have lives and views on everything from the economic crisis to health care and from terrorism to fashion — so we should be represented more broadly.

Changing this is the goal of the Disability & Media Alliance Project (D–MAP).

We believe that change can come if we work with the powerful force of the news media to ensure that the public hears from more people with disabilities. We are the sources and experts for disability stories, and we are the people who can familiarize journalists with the realities—good and bad—of living with disability.

Through D–MAP, we will be available to reporters and producers, learn to understand journalists' needs and constraints, and help to make stories what both the media and the public want them to be: accurate, interesting, and engaging.

This is especially important now, as journalism undergoes a sea change and evolves with new technologies and as the disability rights movement comes of age.