Disability Justice in Action: What Does Radical Access Look Like?


Facilitators: Alison Whyte, Carol Tyson, Siavosh Hedayati, Steven Powe, Heidi Case


Heidi began the training with shared agreements.  These included the following:
•    Disability etiquette – Making sure to not block sign language interpreters when one is speaking to the larger group.  People should state their names clearly so interpreters can follow through and translate.
•    Identify yourself before you begin sharing.
•    We are all experts in our own experiences and can only speak to our experiences. It’s important for individuals to remember that if two individuals have the same disability, it doesn’t mean they have the same experience.  Everyone is on a different path to disability justice.
•    Heidi stated if they could rename this workshop, they would have called it Disability Justice: What is Collective Access Look Like?
•    Group agrees to approach this space with love.
•    Appreciate and Welcome everyone in the space, including acknowledging individuals who wanted to be in the space, but couldn’t be in the space
•    Thank people before who have ensured and made it possible for those of us in that space to be present
•    Oops/Ouch – Ways to acknowledge that harm occurred

Historical Background: Disability Rights Movement and the Disability Justice Movement

•    Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Known as Rehab Act) – Prohibited discrimination on the basis of disability in terms of receiving assistance from the government or federally funded programs.
•    Development Disabilities Act
•    ADA
•    Carrier Act

The Disability Rights movement fought for visibility, rights, and access for individuals. The Movement also fought for the non-visible disabilities to be addressed.

•    1963 (Independent Living Movement) – It started in Berkeley and individuals wanted their right to education without being forced to be dependent upon a few individuals. That was a big time in 1973.  In 1977, there was a 25 day occupation of a federal building to ensure individuals with disabilities had access to transportation. In 1983, ADAPT was formed, which is a grassroots organization that engages in NVDA to ensure that people with disabilities have their full civil and human rights. 

•    1988 – DPM – Deaf President Now
-In March 1988, Gallaudet University appointed the first deaf President. It is considered a watershed moment and is used as synonymous with self-determination and empowerment for deaf and hard of hearing individuals.

•    The Capitol Crawl Movement – The ADA bill was stalled in Congress and people within the disability community were alarmed. In order to pass the Bill, about 475 individuals, mainly in wheelchairs, were on the sidewalk, and they cast aside their wheelchairs and crawled to Congress. There was a march with 1000 protesters that watched as 475 individuals were up there.

Feedback from the Group on experiences with discrimination/access to opportunities such legislation has granted
-    Discrimination during job interviews
-    Some employers are nervous about having employers w/ disabilities and how to respond and provide accessible responses.
-     People with disabilities are one of the largest minorities in the world and in America. There are 1 billion people in the world living with a disability/56 million people in America.
-    History of the Disability Rights and Justice Movement isn’t taught in schools.  Currently, there are individuals fighting to make sure there is disability justice history being taught in school.  

Alison – Asked the audience what do they have access to once the ADA has passed, and one didn’t know before? What can you do now that the ADA has passed that you couldn’t before?
-    We wouldn’t have captions on TV, movie screens, and so forth.
-    With texting, it has become a bit easier for certain individuals w/disabilities.
-    Disability Justice Culture: There is a Disability justice community and culture, which is helpful for individuals who wouldn’t have survived. There is poetry, art, and dance, and work that speaks to the community.

Disability Justice Framework

Disability Justice is a framework. It was founded by Queer Black and Brown women because the Disability Rights framework wouldn’t allow individuals to show up in their entire being.  

Disability Justice incorporates intersectionality.  It’s important to remember and honor individuals in the disability justice movement who have made significant sacrifices.

The point was stressed around the need for individuals to write their own history.  

Disability Justice – Individuals needs to write their own history

Ways this Skillshare Was Accessible tonight:
-    Ramp ( collective access here)
-    Accessible Bathroom for wheelchairs – also Gender Neutral – For people who are LGBTQ – person of a different gender/ and/or their personal care assistants. It’s about respecting everyone’s identity and being accepted in a space and seek accommodation themselves
-    People can bring their full selves into a place
-    Collective Space – Using a mic so it’s easy to hear
-    Writing things down – for different ways of processing
-    sign language interpreters
-    chairs are movable – space for wheelchair users not just sequestered someplace.
-    Laptop Sign –in – it’s easier for some people to type than hold a pen.
-    Guides from the Front Door/Mariam was volunteered for being a guide and getting all the way back here
-    Fans – cool temperature
-    Mike – Disability Rights – Comments are great/financial issues. We have hired interpreters/other kind of accommodations cost money.  If you have to have an ideal system, there needs to be funding for the ideal system. Anytime a deaf person states, there could be a fund ready for that
-    Writing notes and send them out and couldn’t attend the event
-    Asking folks to write their gender pronouns

Ways the Skillshare Wasn’t Accessible
-    Signs in Braille
-    A screen that included transcriptions of everything
-    CART (simultaneous translation service and it’s on a screen and typing in a screen/shows up on a screen/people can follow-up)
-    Hearing Loop (hard of hearing)

Smaller Groups
1) Employment
2) Transportation Equity
3) BlackLivesMatter: Disability Justice