Author: Kelly Nye-Lengerman, Research Associate, University of Minnesota, Institute on Community Integration, Research and Training Center on Community Living

All people have dreams.  Regardless of our life experiences, where we live, or the labels we carry; having dreams is part of the human experience.  Dreams can be both big and small.  They can be as simple as making a new friend, to going on a big vacation. The “American Dream” has often come to mean having a job, owning a home, pursuing an education, having a car, and being independent and self-sufficient. Having financial resources (saving money) can be an essential ingredient to pursing some dreams.

This is Nathan, he is an IT professional, a friend, an advocate who has dreams, and also happens to have Autism.

For many people with disabilities, young and old, the “American Dream” has not been accessible to them.  Some people with disabilities and their families, have not been able to save money to pursue their dreams. For some who receive public supports, strict guidelines kept them from being able to save so that they can pursue these dreams. In addition, society has often had low expectations for people with disabilities, not expecting as much from them. Low expectations, segregated services, and an inability to pursue upward economic mobility have significantly contributed to keeping people with disabilities from their rights to pursue their dreams. ABLE accounts can be game changers, because they support individuals and families to save money to pursue their dreams.  

This is Amy, she has a job, dreams of owning her own home, and happens to have Autism.

Regardless of our labels, our dreams look pretty similar; love, independence, contribution, choices. People with disabilities, even significant disabilities, can do all of same things as people without disabilities can do including: having a job, owning a home, driving, getting married, having children, and be valuable assets to their community.  ABLE accounts provide new tools that support the dreams and aspirations of people with disabilities and their families. They also support raised expectations for people with disabilities so that they can be part of the economic and social fabric of their communities.

This is Ciaria, she is a mother, a leader, believes everyone can contribute, and happens to have an intellectual disability.

Former Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone once said, “We all do better when we all do better.” ABLE accounts for individuals with disabilities and their families mean that we can all do better together. 

Kelly Nye-Lengerman is a Research Associate at the University of Minnesota’s Institute on Community Integration.  Kelly is also an advocate whose work is focused on making public policies and systems work for people through research, training, technical assistance and advocacy.