Non-profit helps Asians and Pacific Islanders with disabilities

PASADENA, Calif. (KABC) -- A local non-profit aims to help disabled people, who often feel invisible, by trying to connect them with better access to help and work.

The Asians and Pacific Islanders with Disabilities of California is making a big difference to help overcome cultural stigmas.

"They'd be like tsk, tsk, tsk don't say that," Daphna Patel joked about how her Southeast Asian relatives wanted to hide the fact she had multiple sclerosis. "You're not disabled."

Patel said cultural stigmas hindered her ability to get help, and the same rang true for Danny Vang, who's visually impaired.

"With disability in the Chinese community, it's sort of shameful because you can't bring respect, you can't bring honor to your family, so it's kind of like you're a minority within a minority," Vang explained.

Patel and Vang shared their stories at the APIDC Conference held in Pasadena. The non-profit group is dedicated to connecting services, education and jobs to people like Patel and Vang.

"Our mission is to give a voice and a face to Asians with disabilities," Patricia Kinaga with APIDC said.

The group said when Asians and Pacific Islanders with disabilities are compared to whites and other ethnic groups, they're the most underemployed and least paid.

"Asian and Pacific Islander women, with disabilities are the most underemployed than any other group within the United States," Kinaga said.

APIDC also identifies and trains youth leaders. Patel said APIDC gave her possibilities, but most importantly a voice.

"It felt so refreshing, like a load off my back. Like yeah, OK, now it validated me. And now I can move forward," she explained.

To learn more about Asians and Pacific Islanders with Disabilities of California, click here.
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