Network aims to improve lives of disabled citizens

CDAN is a new network looking to improve the lives of disabled persons.

Disabilities advocacy groups are joining forces to form the Columbia Disabilities Advocacy Network, aiming to make changes to the city to improve the lives of disabled persons.

"CDAN will provide a platform for the community as a whole to set its priorities and make the world better for people with disabilities," Network founder Sean Spence said.

The coalition will work to identify and alleviate problems disabled persons face.

"Columbia has issues with housing that is accessible for people with disabilities, transportation, health care, even such things as having sufficient parking."

Officials from the City of Columbia are working with CDAN to help turn ideas into reality.

"We've worked very hard with our disabilities commission over the past few years to try to address some of the needs of that particular community and quite honestly I'm very excited and enthusiastic about this latest effort to establish CDAN," Columbia deputy city manager Tony St. Romaine said.

CDAN will also educate on disabilities, including some many people may not have heard of, like "hidden" disabilities.

"Multiple chemical that case the employer would need to be sure that the chemicals you use to clean the building don't have strong fragrances," said Lisa Zanetti of the Columbia Disabilities Commission.

Zanetti said that employers sometimes have a hard time handling those sorts of "hidden" disabilities because they're not as readily apparent as physical disabilities.

Overall, Spence has high hopes for the new Network.

"If you improve the world for people with disablities, you're going to improve the world for everybody," he said.

Spence added that anyone who wants to be a part of CDAN is welcome to do so. He also wanted to convey that not all of the plans require city funding or action, such as educational or informational programs.