Burtchville Man Advocating for People with Disabilities

A local man recently made a trip to Washington, D.C. to advocate for rights of those living with disabilities. Robert Furtado of Burtchville traveled as one of two legislative liaisons for the State Chapter of the Michigan Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired.

While in the nation’s capital, Furtado attended a two-day conference of the American Council of the Blind. Furtado told us that the Council worked on bills including advocating for a wage increase for the sub-minimum wage that disabled workers sometimes earn and eliminating the marriage penalty for those who receive Supplemental Security Income. Furtado’s group worked on another issue involving transportation and the coverage of things like Uber to get disabled persons to public transportation options.

Furtado said that his long history of disability advocacy began in the 1970s when he was denied a bank account from a Port Huron bank because as a permanently blind person, he did not have a driver’s license. This prompted him to lobby for state ID cards to become acceptable forms of identity for financial institutions. Furtado is the organizer of a statewide MCBVI conference and convention for the entire disability community that will be held at the Blue Water Convention Center in October.