Disabilities and Community Building

Another just amazing presentation and discussion at the first National Network Assembly was the Keynote on Saturday, August 24, 2019, led by Reyma McCoy McDeid, the Executive Director of Central Iowa Center for Independent Living (CICIL).

Reyma McCoy McDeid, MA, CESP, is the Executive Director of Central Iowa Center for Independent Living.  Reyma McCoy-McDeid joined the CICIL family in September of 2015 after she dedicated herself to serving individuals who cannot receive supports anymore. Reyma saw that those persons were left out of the picture when discussing equal opportunity in people with disability. Reyma previously served as the Employment Director for the largest community based organization provider in the State of Iowa known as Candeo. Reyma oversaw the day-to-day operations for the Support Employment department. Reyma’s vocation is supporting fellow individuals on the Autism spectrum to live independent and fulfilling lives.

Reyma holds a Master’s degree in Non-Profit Administration with concentrations in Business and Human Services. Reyma is working towards obtaining her Masters of Arts in Education.

Central Iowa Center for Independent Living (CICIL)


Central Iowa Center for Independent Living (CICIL) is a community based, nonprofit organization whose mission is to empower people with disabilities to control their lives and participate and integrate in their community. Founded in Des Moines in 1990, CICIL is one of six Centers for Independent Living (CILs) currently in operation within the state of Iowa.

Our guiding principle at CICIL is the belief that people with disabilities should integrate fully into society, have equal opportunities and maintain control of their lives. The entire community benefits when all citizens live with self-reliance and dignity. 

Central Iowa Center for Independent Living (CICIL)

How to Break Down the Wall Between the Movement and Disabled People

  • Center us as initiatives are being built. Especially multi-marginalized disable people. Outreach after the fact is highly overrated.
  • Get acquainted with media that centers disabled people. Visibility is everything.
  • Seek out disabled acquaintances and other connections for yourself, of your own accord.
  • If you are on a board or taskforce and it has no disabled members, recognize that that is a problem.
  • Demand that conferences and professional development opportunities feature disabled subject matter experts.
  • Stop treating typically functioning people as the default setting in progressive spaces.

Now I intend to make a point of seeking out people with disabilities to work with. Reyma pointed out that many disabilities are not obvious/visible. While we should never say anything that would put people on the spot, we should make general statements welcoming everyone, including those who might have a disability. A term I learned was “self declared” for someone who is comfortable making their disability known.

After her presentation we spoke briefly about the Dream Catcher apartments designed for people with disabilities that my Dad, Burt Kisling , Chuck Day and others built in Des Moines.

NOTE: For some reason I didn’t have my notebook or camera with me that morning. But this awful photo shot with my cell phone summarized what Reyma said.

Reyma McCoy McDeid
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