Keynote: altruism, business do mix

Friday, February 21, 2014

ARLINGTON, Va. – The second annual National CRT Leadership and Advocacy Conference keynote will give providers the chance to hear an advocacy voice that might be new to them: Curt Decker, executive director of the National Disability Rights Network. Decker recently spoke to HME News about why he thinks his organization and providers should work more closely together.

HME News: What are the National Disability Rights Network’s goals?

Curt Decker: We were initially created to investigate abuse and neglect in facilities. After 30 years of getting people to understand that people with disabilities shouldn’t be shuttered away, now we’re bringing folks out into the community—are they able to fully participate? We want them to be able to go to the movies, to church, to work. They can’t do that without really good assistive technology. 

HME: So making sure people have access to complex rehab is part of your goal of integrating them into their communities?

Decker: We’re working to get people with disabilities integrated, but if they can’t get out of their homes, that’s just trading an institution for another kind of isolation. Technology is the lynchpin to everything we’re working on. Without it, all of our work falls apart.

HME: Why are you making time to talk to complex rehab providers about what the network does?

Decker: We also do a lot of work on the Hill, maintaining our programs and working on disability issues. We have a lot of things in common, a lot of synergy between fighting for disability rights and their businesses, but I’m not sure they even know we exist. I think it would really be mutually beneficial if we were more aligned. I want them to come to meetings with us and demonstrate the equipment, and I hope to encourage their support for local chapters. It’s possible to be altruistic and have it be a sound business decision.