Hello All! I am Rick Sommer, and I have just completed my first year of law school at the University of Idaho. I am deeply honored to have been chosen to be a member of the 2011 AAPD Summer Intern program. When the country’s largest cross-disability membership organization invites you to participate in this amazing program, you jump at the chance. Never one to pass up a fantastic opportunity, I enthusiastically accepted, and have spent the past few months eagerly anticipating the beginning of the internship. I was not disappointed.
Washington, D.C. is an amazing city- amazingly hot and humid, even at midnight. That was quite an adjustment, after arriving here from Moscow, Idaho, where the heat and humidity have been, at least this year, kept to a minimum. D.C. is also amazing because it has such a diverse and interesting population. People from every country, every religious group, every race, creed, color, ethnicity, and disability is represented here. Many amazing opportunities also exist to see and visit monuments and historical markers of the triumphs and struggles of our great nation. I am certain I will be documenting my experiences at points of interest during the summer.
Lest I forget, there has been more than our fair share of amazing experiences this first week of orientation. Amazing speakers and presenters, amazing fellow interns, and although it goes without saying, I will say it any way- amazing staff and leadership at AAPD. We are the largest group of summer interns in the history of the program. With an increase of 66.67% in numbers of interns, the sheer volume of details might tend to be overwhelming. Not for this stalwart bunch! The orientation has gone off splendidly, without a hitch, as is the phrase. When a complication has arisen, the staff has simply changed tack and moved forward. All of our hats are off to you. We appreciate the hard work and effort you have put into our short time here.
As more than one speaker has communicated to us, in a variety of ways, there is so much more to do in the area of disability rights advocacy. We were not done because we had the ADA. We are not done now just because we have the ADAAA. The realities are that there is much to be done terms of increasing awareness of the needs of the disabled community, and changing the perceptions of much of the general public as to who we are and of just how much we are capable. It is going to take the entire disability community and the hidden army for civil rights, to make the kinds of strides in opportunity and acceptance we all deserve. I look forward to being an ambassador of AAPD and an activist for disability rights.