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Symposium Hotline



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CART Captioning provided by CommPro, an Alabama company; Sign language interpretation provided by the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind.

  • Thursday, February 21

    7:30 am Registration opens
    8:30 am Opening Remarks
    9:00 am Victor Pineda Keynote 1: Victor Pineda

    Radical Inclusion: What will it take to build cities that leave no one behind?

    Dr. Victor Santiago Pineda is an urban planner, social entrepreneur, filmmaker and globally recognized disability rights advocate. He founded the Pineda Foundation / World Enabled, a global nonprofit that promotes the rights of people with disabilities.

    Keynote will be live streamed on the Institute for Human Rights Facebook page

    10:00 am Coffee Break
    10:30 am Panel Presentations 1

    Session 1: Disability Rights and Education

    Room: Hamilton 1
    Moderator: Sarah dos Anjos (UAB Center for Disability Health and Rehabilitation Science)

    Start with Understanding Disability Education Candace Cable (Community Scholar)

    Author Name: Candace Cable (Community Scholar)

    Comprehensive Understanding Disability Education, UDE is the initial critical component needed to drive the removal of social, economic, and environmental barriers that prevent persons with disabilities from participating fully in their communities. When non-disabled people are immersed in UDE programs, both physical and attitudinal connections to, and empathy with disabled people are generated and the process of true social cohesion; sustainable cultural change that includes all people as participants, is uncomplicated.

    The true aspects of disability, that it’s a natural human life experience we will all experience, are unfamiliar to the majority of six billion non-disabled people. Human beings bodies and minds are wired to automatically slip into fight or flight syndrome, a chemical reaction based in fear of the unfamiliar that creates a protective shield blocking any form of empathy or connection until the unfamiliar is deemed safe. Disabled people are unfamiliar and those shields can only be lowered with experiential education that dismantles attitudes based on multiple ancient fear stigmas, stereotypical myths and lack of knowledge and exposure to disabled people.

    An effective UDE program is experiential, not disability awareness and employs people with disabilities as instructors. The program goes on the oppressive historical journey of disability through the ages, past and current models of disability, how laws shaped human experiences and unconscious bias shapes attitudes. What the CRPD, SDG’s, Universal design, proper language, etiquette and inclusive technology do to support the vast disability types learned about so they can be contributing members of the worldwide societies.

    Take a Professor to Prison: Faculty Perspectives Christine Fleming (Auburn University), Nick Derzis (Auburn University), & Peggy Shippen (Auburn University)

    Presenters: Christine Fleming (Auburn University), Nick Derzis (Auburn University), & Peggy Shippen (Auburn University)

    Presenters will discuss a yearlong seminar format class provided to incarcerated women by university faculty. The presentation will include a) an overview of the seminar class, b) materials used in the seminar class, and c) perspectives and feedback from participating faculty. This seminar was an extension of educational services provided as a result of a long-standing collaboration with the state department of corrections. Group facilitators (round table presenters) invited their colleagues with expertise in selected topical areas to provide guest lectures. The prisoners identified the topics. The class consisting of 12-15 women was held monthly at a small medium security prison. The women who participated in the class were mostly “long time” prisoners with a range of offenses. The educational and vocational programming in this prison were minimal, so this seminar may have enhanced personal growth and educational opportunities for both the inmates and the faculty.

    Disability Rights and Representation in Children’s Books Darolyn "Lyn" Jones (Ball State University)

    Presenter: Darolyn "Lyn" Jones (Ball State University)

    The 2016 Disabilities Statistics Annual Report notes that children living with a disability ages 0 to 17 is now 7.2% of that total population percentage of disabled individuals.

    Yet, according to Disability Scoop, out of the last 131 top literary Newberry Medal and Honor awards given for children’s books, only 31 from 1975 to 2009 included a main or supporting character with a disability. A study found that only ten of the 500 award-winning children’s novels published between 1987 and 1991 included a disabled character.

    Diversity ---which MUST include disability---in children’s literature is critical in constructing culture and community identity. By rethinking the characters we write and read in children’s and young adult literature, we can help shift the stigma.

    The gatekeeping of children’s books happens in publishing houses, bookstores, in schools, in libraries, and often prevents new stories and different stories from being consumed, read, taught, and valued as quality literature.

    Children read to learn, to escape, and to identify. Having access to books about individuals with disabilities is not only good for children with disabilities; it’s good for every child. Because it can help us understand all of the “characters” in our classroom, our community, our world.

    A grant funded undergraduate and graduate course allowed 11 students and one faculty member to research, analyze, and design a comprehensive website featuring resources, best and poor books, disabled authors, book trailers, and write new and original works of children’s lit that represent gaps in the current publishing.

    Towards a Title IX-Mirroring Policy for Disability Kathleen McCarty (Oregon State University), Megan MacDonald (Oregon State University), & Rican Vue (Oregon State University)

    Presenter: Kathleen McCarty (Oregon State University), Megan MacDonald (Oregon State University), & Rican Vue (Oregon State University)

    Educating a diverse body of students within higher education is imperative to the success and well-being of modern society. Efforts to enhance diversity initiatives at institutes of higher education across the US are growing in quantity and quality. However, within the larger notion of “diversity,” the disability population is often overlooked.

    In the US, current K-12 policy mandates equitable access to extracurricular activities for students with disabilities, including sport and physical activity opportunities. However, these equitable access points are not mandated in institutions of post-secondary education. In recognizing the impact that Title IX legislation had on women in matriculating to and graduation from college, it is proposed that a similar policy could have a paralleled impact on students with disabilities in higher education.

    In an effort towards creating a Title IX-mirroring policy for students with disabilities, two areas will be presented for discussion:

    1. The evaluation of existing programs with successful matriculation and inclusion initiatives for students with disabilities
    2. Development of a coalition of like-minded stakeholders

    The goal of this presentation is to discuss next steps towards this long-term goal of a Title IX-mirroring policy for students with disabilities to ensure progress and to overcome the injustice towards students with disabilities as it relates to equitable access to higher education. Through the creation of this policy, it is hypothesized that more students with disabilities will matriculate to and be successful within their college experience, contributing to true diversity on campuses and ultimately working towards a more inclusive society.

    Session 2: Disability Rights, Employment, and Housing in Cross-Cultural Perspective

    Room: Skipwith
    Moderator: Bob Lujano (NCHPAD/Lakeshore Foundation)

    The Right to Work: WID E3 Anita Aaron (World Institute on Disability)

    Presenter: Anita Aaron (World Institute on Disability)

    Even after many years of employer education efforts, accessibility initiatives, and disability rights employment laws, the labor force participation rate for people with disabilities has not significantly increased.

    What’s missing in our disability employment policies and programs are benefits, employment and economic empowerment efforts designed to create more self-confident job seekers. This presentation seeks to address these concerns by proposing a new model which combines three empowerment strategies into one package. This package is called WID E3 (Employment and Economic Empowerment) and is adaptable globally.

    This presentation focuses on how, in a combined educational effort, addressing all three key strategies is design to complement and strengthen existing disability employment efforts.

    “Benefits empowerment” supports include materials and instruction addressing the key facts necessary for people with disabilities to understand before they feel safe considering their transition from disability benefits to employment and can be adapted to any country or locale.

    “Employment empowerment” supports are designed to help people with disabilities better understand both their employment potential as well as learn competitive workplace skills

    “Economic empowerment” educates people with disabilities about financial subjects like budgeting, savings, and asset building. This is especially important given the asset or financial limitations disability-related benefits programs require.

    Included is a review of WID’s website highlighting materials on the three program areas, videos that briefly address key elements of each area and a look at how using social media can reinforce the message

    Youth Leadership Training in Disability Rights Susan Ellis (People First of Alabama) & Karen Willis (People First of Alabama)

    Presenters: Susan Ellis (People First of Alabama) & Karen Willis (People First of Alabama)

    People First of Alabama's leadership training for youth ages 16-26 has yielded dozens of young leaders with developmental disabilities. The teams include diversity in abilities and conditions. Learning is experiential and focused on the history of human and civil rights and disability laws and policies. Purpose of the training is to create a layer of community and disability youth leaders who experience developmental disabilities. Program instructors and facilitators have developmental disabilities. Summit participants will learn about the training strategies and access training materials developed as well as funding and resources as well as how to replicate the training in other states.

    Disability and Housing Instability Jennifer Horton (AIDS Alabama)

    Presenter: Jennifer Horton (AIDS Alabama)

    Consistent access to safe shelter is a basic human need. Although supports and protections for persons with disabilities to obtain, access, and maintain housing do exist, frontline housing social workers find that issues related to disability continue to contribute to housing instability and increased risk of homelessness. This presentation will focus on the primary challenges to achieving housing stability seen by housing social workers when working with clients who have disabilities. A section on opportunities for advocacy and change will also be included.

    Disability Employment and Its Socioeconomic Impact Abi Marutama (Ministry of Law and Human Rights - Republic of Indonesia)

    Presenter: Abi Marutama (Ministry of Law and Human Rights - Republic of Indonesia)

    It is estimated that 15% of 260 million Indonesians are persons with disabilities and 70% of them are in working age. The World Bank contends persons with disabilities make up to 20% of the poor population in a national scale of developing countries. However, persons with disabilities existence remains invisible from national programs for long. Indonesian National Planning and Development Agency contends that they face multiple barriers from physical, virtual to social barriers leading them to live in extreme poverty even higher on average set by the United Nations. Lack of public infrastructure such as inaccessible transports, buildings and sidewalks hinders persons with disabilities to reach their human potentials. This situation is worsened by inadmissible services such as healthcare and education. A population survey reveals that 21.61% of disabled Indonesians never take education which is higher than their peers without disabilities. Education is important for everyone regardless their disability they have. Experts believe that education is a starter to hone soft and hard skills in order to shape human capitals that may compete in economic and social global competition. Disability employment is a catalyst for poverty elevation among persons with disabilities. As part of the implementation, Indonesia enacted the new Indonesian with Disability Act of 2016 in response the adoption of Incheon Strategy, CRPD, and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The new Act sets obligations for public and private sectors to support PWDs to exercise rights to economic opportunities including employment and live in well-being standard like PWODs.

    Removing Barriers to Transition and Employment Brian F. Geiger (The Horizons School) & Josh L. Rocha (The University of Alabama at Birmingham)

    Presenter: Brian F. Geiger (The Horizons School) & Josh L. Rocha (The University of Alabama at Birmingham)

    OBJECTIVES: As a result of this program, participants will (1) understand challenges of transitioning from secondary to post-secondary learning program, (2) consider desired elements to ease successful transition, and (3) review options for successful post-secondary transition enabling work for all persons. ABSTRACT: Challenges to successful transition to post-secondary learning programs, include disability awareness, miscommunication and social discomfort, and inaccurately estimating individual abilities. Additional challenges include over-helping, which limits personal choices and opportunities for trial and error. Classroom and therapeutic supports tend to end abruptly with graduation, leaving some without services and an unclear path to employment.

    Successful transition begins by building expectations for successful attainment of goals, encouraging the young adult to attempt even when feeling uncertain, and encouraging self-management with diminished daily support. Some caregivers and employers fear the unknown and benefit from reassurance to empower young adults, instead of rescuing and worrying about task performance.

    Presenters will share multiple approaches enabling successful transition to real jobs for real pay and life independence. A first step is understanding one’s diagnosis. With increased awareness comes ownership for one’s future and appropriately asking community providers for support. It is helpful to guide families to understand rights after IDEA, transferring support from the family to the community, and accessing resources after high school. Finally, employer education, sharing training strategies and suggested accommodations facilitates success of graduates.

    12: 00 pm Judy Heumann Lunch and Keynote 2: Judy Heumann

    Why Engaging with Disability Rights Movement Benefits Us All

    Judith E. “Judy” Heumann is an American disability rights activist. She is a lifelong civil rights advocate for people with disabilities and her work at the World Bank and in the U.S. State Department was instrumental to make disability rights a core component of international development.

    Keynote will be live streamed on the Institute for Human Rights Facebook page

    1:30 pm Panel Presentations 2

    Session 3: Disability Rights and Intersectionality

    Room: Hamilton 1
    Moderator: Shane D. Burns (UAB Institute for Human Rights)

    Right to Health: A Gender & Disability Perspective Alessandra Aresu (Humanity & Inclusion)

    Presenters: Alessandra Aresu (Humanity & Inclusion)

    SDG3 seeks to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages. Article 25 of the CRPD recognizes the right of people with disabilities to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health including Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH). However, according to WHO, around 50% of people with disabilities around the world cannot afford health care. In addition, people with disabilities are two to four times more likely to be denied health care, to be treated badly in the health care system, and to find health care providers’ skills and facilities inadequate to meet their needs. Studies also confirm that when it comes to SRH, the rights of people with disabilities, and especially women and girls, are persistently violated due to deep-rooted discriminatory attitudes and practices and lack of law and policy enforcement. Despite these facts, the attention disability focused and mainstream stakeholders pay to the right to health of people with disabilities remains limited. This presentation represents an opportunity to discuss in an interactive way about the urgent need to promote “right to health for all” from a gender and disability rights perspective, the engagement of organizations of persons with disabilities in the major initiatives launched so far and the specific role played by women, as well as their interaction with global health stakeholders. The final aim of the presentation is to share on the perspectives of the disability community on how to best promoting future meaningful actions on gender, disability rights, and health.

    Understanding African American Mental Health Jilisa Milton (Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program) & Nadia Richardson (No More Martyrs)

    Presenters: Jilisa Milton (Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program) & Nadia Richardson (No More Martyrs)

    This presentation seeks to provide an understanding of underlying cultural beliefs that exist in the African American community regarding mental health diagnosis. African Americans may delay treatment of mental health issues due to the stigma associated with diagnosis, and the historically inequitable and damaging effects of actions by the larger health system and research community. Increased distrust and poor clinical relationships play a part in inflating negative beliefs surrounding diagnosis, as professionals struggle with understanding how to engage with and treat clients who experience racial trauma in conjunction to other forms of trauma and disorder. We will discuss how increasing the number of educational programs in the African American community can increase awareness about the importance of treatment at earlier stages of diagnosis, and how mental health providers must increase their own self-awareness when caring for and diagnosing African American patients. Utilizing the theoretical frameworks of Critical Race Feminism and Disability Studies, this presentation will explore the socio-cultural, socio-political and socio-culture factors that contribute to the persistence of mental health inequity in the African American community. Trends in minority mental will be highlighted through a consideration of current events as well as an exploration of the growing research on racial trauma. Session participants will walk away with skills for considering race and gender as a social determinant of health as well as strategies towards a culturally responsive understanding of holistic mental wellness.

    Segregation, Mental Health, and Human Rights Michelle Shelley (York University)

    Presenter: Michelle Shelley (York University)

    Using Carol Bacchi’s “What’s the Problem Represented to be?” approach (2012) this paper disrupts the politically dominant narrative that assumes segregation in the prison system to be harmful only when the practice does not exceed a specific amount of time, or when an inmate is known to have mental health concerns. The goal is to re-problematize the policy debate surrounding the use of segregation in the correctional system by drawing on a critical theoretical framework that is tied to “social justice aims” and is informed by an analysis of power that accounts for the relations that work to create dominant ideologies that reproduce injustices (Malcoe & Morrow, 2017). A re-problematization of segregation using Bacchi’s WPR framework demonstrates that the ‘problem’––as represented by prison and policy officials––is the need to maintain “safety and security” for inmates and prison administrators (Dube, 2016; Kerr, 2016; OHRC, 2016) and WPR is able to unsettle this representation by drawing on an intersectional analysis of international human rights legislation to account for the interplay of “distances” and “knowledges” that define a ‘problem’ (Blestsas, 2012).

    Segregating inmates is inhumane, and a form of torture as indicated in the United Nations Interim Report of the Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (2008) and this paper presents an alternative lens to understand how ‘problematization’ can limit objective policy analysis and development.

    A Human Rights-Based Approach to Resettled Syrian Refugees with Disabilities Living in the United States Nicholas R. Sherwood (The University of Alabama at Birmingham) & Aseel D. Hajazin (The University of Alabama at Birmingham)

    Presenter: Nicholas R. Sherwood (The University of Alabama at Birmingham) & Aseel D. Hajazin (The University of Alabama at Birmingham)

    The purpose of this project is to understand challenges experienced by Syrian refugees with disabilities face when attempting full participation in the society of their new home. Research has not sufficiently shown how these marginalization statuses interact. Issues with language and translation, cultural barriers, lack of awareness on navigating the US medical / governmental assistance systems, and heightened vulnerability to mental health issues stemming from escaping violence and conflict are only among the most apparent challenges refugees with disabilities face. Successfully addressing these and other interrelated challenges will require collaboration from many stakeholders, including governmental organizations, non-governmental organizations, academia, and resettled individuals themselves. The goal of this project is therefore to lower barriers to societal participation of Syrian refugees with disabilities in the U.S. through the development of multi-stakeholder needs assessments and subsequent policy solutions.

    Session 4: Disability and Disability Rights Histories

    Room: Skipwith
    Moderator: Jereme Wilroy (UAB/Lakeshore Research Collaborative)

    National Museum of Disability Rights: It's Time James W. Conroy (Pennhurst Memorial & Preservation Alliance) & Judith Gran (Pennhurst Memorial & Preservation Alliance)

    Presenters: James W. Conry (Pennhurst Memorial & Preservation Alliance) & Judith Gran (Pennhurst Memorial & Preservation Alliance)

    The disability rights movement is one of the great American civil rights struggles, yet perhaps the least known to the public. An Op Ed in the New York Times was written in September by five high school seniors in Massachusetts: “It’s Time for a National Museum of Disability.” We of the Pennhurst Memorial and Preservation Alliance agree, and have been working locally for nine years to build a foundation for a national initiative. Pennhurst provides a microcosm of many parts of the movement, and we have made some strides toward planning and public education. Our group focuses on citizens with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and now it is time to come together with the other great strands of the movement – every disability advocacy group in the nation. This presentation will offer a review of the key events around the Pennhurst saga, including legal, self-advocacy, and outcomes. This will illuminate the movement’s victories in public education, humane supports, and community versus institutional models. It will transition into ideas for beginning a national initiative toward creating a “place” of learning and reverent memory in our nation’s capital.

    Do Human Rights Matter: Making a Case for the CRPD Arlene Kanter (Syracuse University)

    Presenter: Arlene Kanter (Syracuse University)

    In the US and throughout the world, we are witnessing attacks on basic human rights. Given the number of wars that rage, the plight of millions of refugees, and the suffering, poverty, violence, and inequality that remains unabated in so many countries, some people argue that the entire human rights regime has failed. I do not agree. While it is true that all human rights treaties have not realized their full potential, human rights laws matter. In 2006, the UN adopted the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD), which has since been ratified by 177 countries. Based on my involvement in the drafting of the CRPD, and my research and work with disability organizations since then, my presentation will focus on the CRPD as an example of a treaty that is making a difference in the lives of people with and without disabilities throughout world: It is transforming the way in which societies view and treat people with disabilities; it is changing state laws, policies and practices by offering new protections and opportunities to ensure the full participation of people with disabilities (often for the first time); and, it is creating new international human rights norms which will have long-lasting effects on the rights of people with and without disabilities, alike. My presentation concludes, therefore, that based on the experience of the CRPD, human rights laws are not only not failing, but thriving -- as they must, if we are to pursue a just world for all.

    Crippled Children, Disabled Activists, 1909-1930 Leanna Duncan (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

    Presenter: Leanna Duncan (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

    Histories of disability have complicated the idea that disability justice was invented within the large movements of the mid to late twentieth century. Roots and antecedents of late twentieth-century disability activism appeared in a range of societal spaces, from summer camps of the mid-twentieth century to veterans' organizations and supporters which fought for funding and recognition since the nation's earliest wars. In this paper, I argue that there existed another unexpected home for disability activism: the US "crippled children's movement" of the early twentieth century. Though this movement was led predominantly by the Ohio-based International Society for Crippled Children, which was linked with local Rotary clubs, it was not solely a philanthropic arena for rich, nondisabled businessmen. It was also a powerful conduit for disabled people to call for widespread change, as disabled writers, readers, and even children found room for expression within its borders. I use the two most popular periodicals of the movement, the Michigan Hospital School Journal and The Crippled Child, both edited by disabled editor, teacher, and thought leader Joe F. Sullivan, to highlight rhetoric calling not just for donations but for social and legal changes to the ways in which disabled children were viewed and treated, and occasionally even structural changes of the type often considered novel to the later disability rights movement.

    Political Polarization in Disability Activism Jennifer K. Frederick (University of Michigan) & Abigail J. Stewart (University of Michigan)

    Presenter: Jennifer K. Frederick (University of Michigan) & Abigail J. Stewart (University of Michigan)

    Two issues stood out in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election as important for disabled Americans: disability rights and healthcare access. Prior to the election, disability rights legislative efforts, such as the ADA, passed with bipartisan support, but healthcare efforts, such as the Affordable Care Act, were polarized. During the election, disability rights became similarly polarized with Trump being criticized for mocking a disabled reporter and Clinton featuring disability rights activists at the Democratic National Convention. Using a survey sample of American voters that was part of a larger election study, I examined the relations between political partisanship and disability rights and healthcare activism. Correlations suggest that disability rights activism was not partisan prior to the election but became partisan following it. Healthcare activism was politically partisan both before and after the election. While political partisanship was correlated with disability rights activism following the election, it did not predict participation in this activism. Instead, those who identified as disabled, who considered disability as an important election issue, and those who participated in disability rights activism before the election were more likely to participate in disability rights activism following the election. For healthcare activism, those who were politically liberal, who considered disability to be an important election issue, and who participated in healthcare activism prior to the election were more likely to participate in healthcare activism following the election. These results suggest that despite the increase in political polarization, disability rights activism has the potential to be a site for bipartisan coalition.

    3:00 pm Coffee Break
    3:30 pm Poster Session

    Poster Session

    Room: Hamilton 2

    Association Between (BMI) and E- Cigarette Use Mohammed Alqahtani (The University of Alabama at Birmingham)

    Presenter: Mohammed Alqahtani (The University of Alabama at Birmingham)


    Individuals who smoke tobacco weigh less, on average, than those who do not smoke tobacco, perhaps due to acute increases in energy expenditure and reduced appetite following exposure to nicotine. E-cigarettes are an increasingly popular alternative to tobacco smoking in which nicotine is heated and inhaled along with water vapor. There is little research on the relationship between e-cigarettes and BMI. We thus test whether currently using e-cigarettes is associated with BMI.


    We conducted a secondary data analysis of 207,117 electronic medical records from the University of Alabama at Birmingham Informatics for Integrating Biology and the Bedside (i2b2). Patient data from Sept 1st, 2017 through 1st June 2018 were extracted. To be included in the analysis, a patient’s record had to include measures of e-cigarette use and key sociodemographics including sex, race and educational attainment. We used OLS regression to test the association between c-cigarette use and BMI controlling for covariates. For comparison with tobacco smoking, we also estimated the association between current tobacco smoking and BMI in a sample from the same population.


    The final analytic sample included 965 patients with the requisite data on e-cigarette use, indicating that e-cigarette use was not concurrently assessed with other sociodemographic information for most patients. Individuals who reported using e-cigarettes had, on average, a lower BMI compared to those who did not report currently using e-cigarettes (b= -2.79, p=0.0358). This estimate is consistent with the results of the analysis assessing the association between current tobacco smoking and BMI after controlling for the same set of covariates (b=-2.14, p0.0001).


    Our findings suggest that e-cigarettes may be associated with lower BMI; however, our data come from a population of individuals seeking health care and are thus unlikely to be representative of the broader population.


    Research reported in this [publication/press release] was supported by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under award number KL2TR001419. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

    Improving Transitions for Disabled Students Murti Bhakta (Atlanta Legal Aid Society, Inc.) & Julie McGowan (Atlanta Legal Aid Society, Inc.)

    Presenters: Murti Bhakta (Atlanta Legal Aid Society, Inc.) & Julie McGowan (Atlanta Legal Aid Society, Inc.)

    The Disability Integration Project of the Atlanta Legal Aid Society’s mission is to implement the ADA's integration mandate – allowing people with disabilities to live in the most integrated setting available. In our work with children and adolescents, we see a persisting problem for students transitioning from school to post-education, adult life. Many disabled adults in transition are not given appropriate transition goals or adequate resources to maintain growth, development and independence post-graduation from high school. Often transition plans set goals for students and their families that are unrealistic based upon the student’s abilities and do not provide for continued support beyond graduation. Families are left to manage on their own when it comes to accessing services and post-graduation resources. When this happens, disabled individuals often draw back from the community around them. Many end up in the school to prison pipeline or lose the skills they acquired in school due to the sudden lack of support, structure, and guidance. Strong and relevant transition services while in school, and which are monitored following graduation, are a significant deterrent to this loss and can be a bridge between school life and adult opportunities such as continuing education and employment. Transition planning provides opportunities for students with disabilities to experience the positive post-school outcomes mentioned above.

    Our goal for this session would be to acknowledge and present the issue of disabled student transition and discuss what individuals, organizations, and states are doing to resolve it.

    Expanding Parent Roles in Youth Transition Service K. Megan Carpenter (United Ability)

    Presenter: K. Megan Carpenter (United Ability)

    This presentation will describe current laws for transition services and employment for individuals with disabilities, describe current issues with transition services, and give suggestions on how to encourage parents of these youth to become more efficient advocates for their child when pursuing these services.

    Improving Accessibility Through Higher Education Amber M. Chelette (Ouachita Baptist University)

    Presenter: Amber M. Chelette (Ouachita Baptist University)

    It has been consistently demonstrated that experiential learning is more apt than lectures and book work to change students’ attitude toward the course material and prepare students to apply the course content in their future career. In the Adapted Kinesiology & Leisure Methods course at Ouachita Baptist University, students learn how to include persons with disabilities in programs and facilities related to fitness, sport and recreation. The course is enhanced by a number of immersive, practical experiences which allow the student to appreciate the diversity of humans of all abilities, develop a deeper appreciation for the challenge that inaccessible programs and facilities present, and to develop confidence in their ability to include persons with disabilities as a future professional. Students begin the semester by simulating a physical disability for 24 hours and creating a video diary of their experiences. Next, students use the AIMFREE instrument to evaluate whether local fitness and recreation facilities are accessible and provide a recommendation for improvement to the program director. Finally, students plan and implement a fitness assessment, fitness program, an adapted sport, and an outdoor recreational activity for local individuals with developmental disabilities. Assuredly, these practical experiences better prepare students to make programs accessible for persons with disabilities in their future careers. If we want to improve accessibility, what better way than to start by enlightening the mind of the undergraduate, pre-professional. Knowledge may produce power, but experience produces change.

    India, Disability Rights & Physical Education SriPadmini Chennapragada (Texas Woman's University)

    Presenter: SriPadmini Chennapragada (Texas Woman's University)

    In December 2016, India passed a new disability rights law modeled after the United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). Varying estimates place the population of persons with disabilities in India between 40 to 80 million (World Bank, 2018). The new law included sports and games within its framework of education rights. The purpose of this research was to identify the gaps and challenges that exist within India’s education policies and disability rights laws for providing equitable physical education (PE) opportunities for PwD in India at school-age. The present research used in-depth documentary analysis as the research method. Some key gaps and challenges that were identified are: (a) lack of clear guidelines addressing PE for PwD at school-age; (b) intersection of disability rights and education rights in India are poorly supported by legislative mandates; and (c) physical education teacher education (PETE) curricula in India don’t include disability related learning content. Understanding the interaction of disability rights and PE within the Indian context is important for a global audience due to the following reasons: (i) global migration trends indicate more Indian families migrating to the United States (i.e., an eleven fold increase in numbers since 1980) [Pew Research Center, 2018]; and (ii) increased participation of Indian athletes with disabilities in the global disability sport movement. In conclusion, historic absence of sports science research about Indian athletes with disabilities discouraged advanced scientific and legislative work and the present research is intended to fill some gaps in the area.

    Developing an Empathetic Understanding of Autism Elliot Cox (The University of Alabama at Birmingham)

    Presenter: Elliot Cox (The University of Alabama at Birmingham)

    An estimated 1.5 million people live in the United States with Autism, a communication disability which affects the way a person interacts with other people and the world around them. This proposal calls for an understanding of autism as a form of neurological diversity that should be celebrated, respected and enabled. This research will argue that the key disabling feature of autism is the way in which society responds to this diversity and that respect for autistic people should be rooted in empathy, not in their potential advantages or unique contributions. A multi-disciplinary analysis drawing from evolutionary genetics and neuropsychology to educational practice and anthropology will deconstruct the stigma attached to autism, what is meant by a spectrum and autistic traits. Stigma creates barriers to the full expression of an autistic person’s rights; the research will illustrate this using three examples of everyday interactions. First, responding to disruptive behavior within a formal educational setting, explained from the perspective of both the teacher and the autistic student. Second, an informal friendship building social situation, supported by an interactive exercise. Third, a public experience in a shopping mall of a mother and child, supported by video. A positive concept of autism does not intend to downplay the suffering and difficulty that autistic people live in, instead it seeks to place the responsibility on neurotypical people, whose communication abilities fit into the social mold, to understand and adapt themselves to see autistic people as they are, not as we think they should be.

    The Development of Virtual Reality Environments to Improve Movement Performance in Individuals with Chronic Low Back Pain Rebecca White Hennessy (The University of Alabama at Birmingham)

    Presenter: Rebecca White Hennessy (The University of Alabama at Birmingham)

    Purpose As explained by the Fear-Avoidance Model, some individuals with chronic low back pain (cLBP) develop a fear of movement which can lead to avoidance, disuse, and increased pain. Controlling for pain, increased fear results in reduced walking speeds, range of motion, and trunk torque. Virtual reality (VR) is a tool that can distract from pain, potentially induce analgesia, and introduce visual stimulus to influence movement. Movement feedback can be manipulated in VR and used to influence movement perception. The aim of my study is to manipulate visual stimulus to match, exaggerate, or understate movement in VR to improve movement performance in the real world.

    Methods To do this, we’ve developed two VR environments using Unity, a game development platform. Users walk on a self-driven treadmill while a VR scene controlled by the user’s movement is played through a head-mounted display. A movement multiplier, known as a gain, is applied to the user’s real-time movement to modulate how the real-life movement appears in the VR scene.

    Results The developed VR scenes encourage goal-directed walking and reaching movements through coin pickups along a walking trial. Preliminary testing has shown walking speed and reaching perception can be manipulated.

    Conclusions The designed environments will be used to test 2 perception hypotheses that may help individuals with cLBP perform challenging movement tasks during rehabilitation by distracting from fear and manipulating the challenge perceived during difficult tasks. The VR environments may be able to provide individuals with chronic pain a tailored rehabilitative experience that helps recalibrate movements associated with pain.

    Yelling on Twitter: Advocacy via Social Media Martina Svyantek (Virginia Tech)

    Presenter: Martina Svyantek (Virginia Tech)

    Tweeting can be an expression of joy, pain, community, and isolation. Disability-rights activists have created and maintained multiple campaigns (denoted by hashtags) to draw attention to specific issues and barriers for the community. Examples of these hashtags include: #SayTheWord (saying Disability, not a euphemism), #SuckItAbleism (reactions to the push to ban plastic straws), and #CripTheVote (about voting issues related to Disability).

    Twitter, and these hashtags, can act as a lifeline. In their best form, these hashtags are about finding community, raising awareness, and putting forth a call to action. They can call attention to both national-level concerns, and those more local, such as #ClaimYourRoll (a call to action over re-building physical access barriers) or #GreatAccessibilityChallenge (a challenge to just not use stairs to get across high-ed campuses for a single week).

    This presentation will highlight such recent campaigns and their responses, demonstrating how ""the little things"" directly impact Disabled people, calling into question the lack of society attention to these problems, which could literally kill people. I argue from the position that Disabled people know what they are discussing, which in this case are the current issues affecting their lives.

    Talking and Listening to Blocks Amber Wagner (Birmingham-Southern College) & Zirui Wang (Birmingham-Southern College)

    Presenters: Amber Wagner (Birmingham-Southern College) & Zirui Wang (Birmingham-Southern College)

    With over 2,500 schools and 45,000 students taking the first AP CS Principles exam in May 2017 (College Board, 2017), the number of K-12 schools and universities using block programming languages to teach programming to novices is going to continue to increase. While block programming languages have been shown to be a successful teaching tool (demonstrated by the success of the AP CS Principles launch), they are dependent on the mouse/keyboard for input. This results in a usage barrier for users with motor impairments who may lack the ability or the dexterity to control the mouse and keyboard as an input modality. Moreover, it is common knowledge among the block programming language community that block programming languages are incompatible with screen readers. It is important for users with disabilities to learn software development skills because the more diversity that exists on application development teams, the stronger the resulting application will be (Kelleher & Pausch, 2005; Ladner, 2008), and the likelihood that the resulting application will be more accessible also increases. This proposal presents Myna, a Vocal User Interface that allows young programmers to use their voices instead of the mouse/keyboard in addition to CodeBox64, which is a Tactile Input Modality that provides auditory cues for visually impaired users of block programming languages. Myna has been tested on several different user groups with successful results. While CodeBox64 has not undergone as many user studies, it is testing well, thus far.

    The Debate on Ability-Based Selective Abortion Erica Webb (The University of Alabama at Birmingham) & Marlee Townsend (The University of Alabama at Birmingham)

    Presenters: Erica Webb (The University of Alabama at Birmingham) & Marlee Townsend (The University of Alabama at Birmingham)

    We have identified an area of tension between feminist frameworks of reproductive rights and critical disability theories on ableist notions of selective abortion. Disability theorists argue that selective abortion on the basis of fetal abnormality is rooted in a eugenic framework that ignores the social model of disability. Thus, indiscriminate support for ability-based selective abortion encourages the exclusion of persons with disabilities from existence. Feminist theorists often argue that women have the right to terminate pregnancies and their reasoning should be trusted. Women’s private decisions over their own bodies are fiercely contested in the public sphere, and selective abortion based on ability is no exception. Taking care of children with disabilities can take a large financial and emotional toll on mothers in a society like the U.S. that lacks adequate institutional support and affordable healthcare options. Both arguments are merited and worthy of investigation. We have conducted a critical discourse analysis of both theoretical frameworks. Our analysis is sourced from a variety of academic literature, publications by activists, and online public forums regarding issues of ability-based fetal termination. We will present our findings through a poster presentation and discussion.

    Disability Community Rights in Research Practice Rua M. Williams (University of Florida)

    Presenter: Rua M. Williams (University of Florida)

    We present a literature review and critical analysis of participatory research design in computer science, highlighting transformative and emancipatory outcomes related to how well studies meet participatory design criteria. There are distinct differential outcomes and problematics to address when using proxy-report vs. self-advocate report, particularly when falsely labeling proxy-report as participatory. Further, the potential differences between basic participatory research and Community-Based Participatory Research for disability groups with strong cultural community identities must be accounted for in ongoing research praxis. We provide an analysis of these potential outcome differentials between participatory and Community-Based Participatory Research in autism studies, specifically. Finally, we question the ethics of excluding disabled populations from general populations in study design, and provide guidelines from the literature for supporting universally accessible research design so that general population samples can be truly representative of the general population, including the disability community.

    Community-Based Education for Disabled Youth Isabel McGuinness Torrence (Grinnell College)

    Presenter: Isabel McGuinness Torrence (Grinnell College)

    My presentation would be based on my experiences growing up with a disabled sister as well as working as a teaching aide at a school for children with cognitive and muscular disabilities. These experiences impressed upon me the importance of young students with disabilities being educated to think of themselves as equal members of the community. Too often, disabled children are pushed out of the public school system without adequate preparation for the real world, which furthers other issues with accessibility later on in life. Experiencing this first hand has shown me the urgent need for a curriculum for kids with disabilities that fosters their self-esteem and teaches them to take their share of public space. This kind of curriculum involves community engagement and learning real-life skills that will be applicable when they become adults. The need for better community-focused education for the disabled community is a matter of justice and equity. I believe that if done correctly, education of disabled youth could eventually help eliminate many issues that would face them later on in life. I’ve seen education of disabled kids done well, and I’ve seen it done poorly. I would love to share my observations of how beneficial effective education can be, and I think the questions of how to improve specialized education for these youth needs to be brought to the forefront when discussing disability rights.

    5:30 pm Reception at Lakeshore Foundation
    • Jeff Underwood, President, Lakeshore Foundation
    • Amy Rauworth, Director of Policy and Public Affairs, Lakeshore Foundation

    Free transportation to and from the conference hotel is provided at the following times (return trips to be announced):

    • 4:30 pm — Accessible buses leave from Hilton Hotel
    • 4:45 pm — Buses leave from Hilton Hotel

    The address is: Lakeshore Foundation, 4000 Ridgeway Drive, Birmingham, AL 35209

    Please note that very limited parking will be available due to construction on the Lakeshore Foundation campus. Complementary parking is available at the conference hotel.

  • Friday, February 22

    8:30 am John Kemp Keynote 3: John Kemp

    Why Disability Inclusion Must Be A Right

    John D. Kemp is an American disability rights leader who co-founded the American Association of People with Disabilities and is currently the President & CEO of the Viscardi center and the Henry Viscardi School.

    Keynote will be live streamed on the Institute for Human Rights Facebook page

    9:30 am Panel Presentations 3

    Session 5: Disability Rights, Identities, and Narratives

    Room: Hamilton 1
    Moderator: Karin Korb (Lakeshore Foundation)

    Disability Representation: From Other to Empowered Megan Bent (University of Hawai'i at Manoa)

    Presenter: Megan Bent (University of Hawai'i at Manoa)

    Susan Sontag wrote in Illness as Metaphor ,“ Illness is the night side of life, a more onerous citizenship. Everyone who is born holds dual citizenship, in the kingdom of the well and the kingdom of the sick… sooner or later each of us is obliged… to identify ourselves as citizens of that other place.” Diagnosed with a progressive autoimmune disease at 24, I understood my body as shameful and Other. My research in Disability Studies revealed to me that my sense of shame was a byproduct of coded messages I had received my whole life. As a photographer I became curious how the art medium I loved had played a role in this process.

    I discovered photography played a significant role in casting the disabled body as Other. Sir Francis Galton, the founder of eugenics, used composite photography to profile disability. Galton layered portraits of people with diseases until a blurry signifier of what a sick person would look like emerged. American Photographer Eadward Muybridge exploited people with disabilities in his monograph Animal Locomotion; using pseudoscience he contrasted the movements of “Normal Bodies” and “Abnormal Bodies”. French neurologist, Duchene De Bolognese, experimented on patients in Victorian asylums. He would send electrical shocks to their facial muscles and photograph their reactions. In the late 1800’s American portrait photographer Charles Eisenmann photographed performers in the Freak Show, creating carte de visits or cabinet cards. The photographs of these performers were sold for money, commodifying their bodies even further than their performances already did.

    The narratives of Galton, Muybridge, Bolognese, and Eisenmann are still part of mainstream representation of disability by the three mainstream stereotypes identified by Paul K. Longmore. I will speak to how these stereotypes continue to have real world consequences for people with disabilities.

    I will share how disclosure through art became my response to these narratives, allowing me to take control of my representation. Utilizing Rosemarie Garland Thomson’s visual activism, I use the mechanisms of the early eugenics photographers to dismantle their logic. I will also share the work of other Disability Culture advocates, like Frida Kahlo, Karolyn Kehrig, Riva Lehrer, and Yinka Shonibare MBE, whose art challenges assumptions and stereotypes about disability through intersectional and global lenses. My voice and the many voices in Disability Culture are asserting through art, that disability is a source of power, knowledge, identity, and pride.

    Putting Pieces Together: Identity and Disability Molly Clay (UAB – Disability Support Services), Katy Cop (UAB – Disability Support Services), & Taylor Lucas (UAB – Disability Support Services)

    Presenters: Molly Clay (UAB – Disability Support Services), Katy Cop (UAB – Disability Support Services), & Taylor Lucas (UAB – Disability Support Services)

    Disability Support Services (DSS) represents those with various disabilities can also have multiple identities and successes. It was a way for us to show campus that disabilities come in all shapes and sizes, degrees and backgrounds. Many students and staff within the UAB community had an opportunity to share what their identities outside of disability were.

    • What makes your identity?
    • Major?
    • Sexuality?
    • Diagnosis?
    • Age?
    • Denomination?
    • Ethnicity?

    These characteristics do NOT define you! These characteristics are pieces of a larger puzzle that makes you your own person!

    We need to get back to the CORE of the person - WHO they ARE - and realize disability rights, are human rights.

    Students will fill out their own personality puzzle, while watching the Challenge the Stigma Video. We are all unique and have many identities. Own your personality, and own your human rights.This video will discuss how our office focuses on creating an inclusive campus for students with disabilities and encourages students to seek support.

    Personal and Collective Disability Identity Angie Hall (Auburn University), Sharon Weaver (Troy University), Jill Meyer (Auburn University), & Rebecca Curtis (Auburn University)

    Presenters: Angie Hall (Auburn University), Sharon Weaver (Troy University), Jill Meyer (Auburn University), & Rebecca Curtis (Auburn University)

    The Disability Rights Movement and the Independent Living Movement assert that the label of “disability” resides in an inequitable social structure rather than in the person with a disability (PWD) and has begun to replace the historically negative and devalued social role of “disability” with a more positive sense of self (Darling, 2013). This presentation provides an overview of disability as a cultural-developmental trend whereby an individual with a disability incorporates into his or her self-definition his or her individual disability-related difference and regards that difference as a resource for participation in the same activities in which people without disabilities participate in mainstream society including living independent lives (Mpofu & Harley, 2006). Historical perspectives of the social construction of social minority categories, specifically “disability,” are presented along with theories and models associated with disability identity development.

    Traditionally, people with disabilities have been denied a group identity by mainstream society (Gill, 1997). In addition to historical perspectives of disability, the gap in the literature related to disability identity related constructs versus other minority identity statuses such as African-Americans and women is presented. Inspired by other social justice movements like the Civil Rights movement, PWD have begun to define who they are and where their place is in society in a positive and affirming way as exemplified by self-determination and the right to live independently. As one of the principles of the Independent Living Movement states, this is a quest for both individual and collective empowerment and self-determination (Darling, 2013).

    The Deaf and the Other Seo Yeong (Shauna) Kwag (Independent Scholar)

    Presenter: Seo Yeong (Shauna) Kwag (Independent Scholar)

    Conceptual shifts in early modern philosophical conceptions of the deaf suggest a salient case study in the social construction of deafness. Ancient models which formed the starting point of early modern philosophical inquiry into deafness assumed that the inability to speak was intrinsically connected with an inability to hear, a conjunction expressed by the conventional usage “deaf and dumb.” Rejecting the ancient exempla, Leibniz speculated that a society comprised entirely of congenitally deaf people could in fact reach a significant level of scientific accomplishment, postulating further that the use of gestural signs in lieu of conventional spoken language could provide wide-ranging benefits, allowing a vividness and precision inconceivable within the range of speech alone. Methodologically, the model of scientific theory-change suggests an analogous framework, allowing for the treatment of such conceptual development within the apparatus of paradigm shifts. This paper argues that Leibniz’s theory of deafness represented a decisive paradigm shift from Greek models that posited an essential relationship between deafness and dumbness, a view responsible for historically othering portrayals of the deaf as congenitally less intelligent, incapable of speech, and physically impaired. In order to establish that sign language was an effective form of language, and as a corollary that deaf people were equally capable in all relevant cognitive capacities, Leibniz employed a novel theoretical account of language to replace the earlier reigning paradigm and the presumed otherness of the deaf entailed by it.

    They Don’t Want Michael: Policy and Practices Jeffrey Meadows (Pennsylvania State University)

    Presenter: Jeffrey Meadows (Pennsylvania State University)

    This paper explores both the historical and ongoing disenfranchisement of people with disabilities. I will examine the creation and maintenance of environmental, social and economic barriers that have marginalized and removed people with disabilities from mainstream society. Specifically, this paper traces the experiences of my brother, Michael, as seen through my eyes, in a narrative account. Beginning in 1978, Michael was institutionalized at the W.D. Partlow Developmental Center and was still a resident at the time of the permanent closure of the facility in 2011. The paper traces the experiences of my brother starting six years after the Wyatt v Stickney (1971) decision, a seminal court case at the federal level that resulted in a ruling establishing legal rights of those with disabilities. Within this context, the paper will examine the degree to which individual rights of those with disabilities were insufficiently protected or promoted. Using a qualitative approach, the research applies the theory of macro cultural psychology as a lens to focus the exploration of Michael’s experiences within Alabama’s system of institutionalization of those with disabilities. The degree to which social institutions and cultural concepts have shaped the perception of identity for individuals like Michael may have been undervalued in terms of their importance for identifying challenges for advocacy for the implementation and development of the rights of people with disabilities.

    Session 6: Disability Rights, Health, and Medicine

    Room: Skipwith
    Moderator: Ajanet Rountree (UAB Institute for Human Rights)

    Minimal Important Change in the Life-Space Assessment Marzouq Almutairi (The University of Alabama at Birmingham)

    Presenter: Marzouq Almutairi (The University of Alabama at Birmingham)

    Background/Objectives: The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Life-Space Assessment (LSA) is a widely used measure of community mobility. To assist clinicians and researchers with assessing the significance of changes in scores, we determined the Minimal Important Change associated with a change in health status.

    Setting: Homes of community-dwelling older adults.

    Participants: 419 African-American and non-Hispanic White adults age 75 years and older participating in the UAB Study of Aging II, a longitudinal epidemiological study across the state of Alabama.

    Intervention: None.

    Measurements: Linear mixed models were used to compare change in LSA scores over one-month intervals (N=9,712) between participants reporting improvement, no change, or decline in activities of daily living (ADL) walking scores, accounting for the correlation among scores for the same participant over time.

    Results: A decline in walking status was associated with a mean decrease in LSA scores of 2.93 points (95% CI 1.69, 4.17), indicating lower mobility. An improvement in walking status was associated with a mean increase in LSA scores of 2.51 points (95% CI 1.26, 3.77), indicating higher mobility.

    Conclusion: A change in LSA scores of 5 or more is clinically important, exceeding the 95% CI for the change in LSA associated with change in walking status. Changes exceeding this threshold should prompt further investigation by providers with a goal of preserving mobility.

    Disability Community Centered Research Approaches Sandy Ho (Brandeis University) & Lauren Smith (Brandeis University)

    Presenters: Sandy Ho (Brandeis University) & Lauren Smith (Brandeis University)

    Historically, disability rights and health care policies are developed by positioning disability communities as the subject of data collection and research. This approach to data collection perpetuates the disparities between disability communities and research whose data outcomes inform health policies that most directly impact people with disabilities. In a health needs assessment of people with disabilities who are racial, ethnic, and linguistic minorities in the states of Rhode Island and Connecticut, data was informed by local disability communities in a multi-pronged approach to gather qualitative and quantitative data. The methodology used in this health needs assessment provides recommendations to guide other disability health care policy research on implementing disability community informed data-collection to ensure data-driven policies includes those living at the intersections of marginalized disability identities. This presentation will provide an overview of the methodology used in the health needs assessment of culturally diverse people with disabilities in the states of RI and CT, and make suggestions for researchers on how data-collection methodology can center the disability community.

    The Borderline Struggle: Humanizing Women's Trauma Jennie Lambert (Georgia State University)

    Presenters: Jennie Lambert (Georgia State University)

    The question of disability surrounding the diagnosis of borderline personality disorder (BPD) has been debated in psychology, women’s studies, and disability studies, with scholars such as Janet Wirth-Cauchon, Dana Becker, Clare Shaw, Gillian Proctor, Nadine Nehls, Merri Lisa Johnson, Alison Kafer, Bradley Lewis, and Corrina Eastwood. These scholars argue that BPD is a disability and the trauma women experience is not being captured or treated through the diagnosing process. My paper addresses the issue of trauma with special attention to holistic means of healing through art therapy, telling one’s story, and access to trauma therapy. I argue that if women with BPD were diagnosed with complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD), their trauma would be more adequately addressed. In conclusion, this project humanizes women with BPD by acknowledging their trauma and thinking of new ways to focus on healing and rehabilitation.

    Recalibrating Legal Responses to Hoarding Behavior Faith Mullen (University of the District of Columbia)

    Presenter: Faith Mullen (University of the District of Columbia)

    This work examines the role of hoarding behavior among the elderly in triggering court ordered guardianships. Now that hoarding behavior has a diagnostic criteria in the DMS 5, courts should recalibrate their responses through the lens of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

    11:00 am Coffee Break
    11:30 am Panel Presentations 4

    Session 7: Disability Law and Policy: Local, National, and Global Perspectives

    Room: Hamilton 1
    Moderator: Nicholas Sherwood (UAB Institute for Human Rights)

    Accessible Democracy: Protecting the Right to Vote Tate Hall (Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program)

    Presenter: Tate Hall (Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program)

    The right to vote is deeply ingrained in our country’s history and is the cornerstone of our identity as a democratic republic. Although the Voting Rights Act, Americans with Disabilities Act and the Help America Vote Act all give strict guidelines to ensure that people with disabilities have the right to vote independently and privately, there are still poll sites that aren’t accessible, people who are stripped of their right to vote due to institutionalization or guardianship and countless other issues that plague voters with disabilities. In the 2016 Presidential Election, people with disabilities accounted for approximately one sixth (16.67%) of eligible voters with a total of 35.4 million people (Lisa Schur and Douglas Kruse, Rutgers University). That number is a force of voters to be reckoned with and has the possibility to give people with disabilities the voice they all too often aren’t afforded. This presentation focuses on how people with disabilities right to vote is often stripped, how to mitigate those issues and how to educate people with disabilities to get them involved and engaged in the electoral process.

    Role the ODSP Plays in User Rights Alli Herrington (York University)

    Presenter: Alli Herrington (York University)

    The topic I propose will be addressing the importance of the framework which underlies the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP). By focusing on two frameworks, I show that moving away from the medical model of disability (WHO, 1980) towards a rights-based approach could create for the ODSP to be a more inclusive and supportive program. Completing a systemic analysis, as well as interviewing individuals who are users of the ODSP about their general and specific experiences has led to suggest that if the ODSP were to adopt a rights-based approach, users’ choice (autonomy) and self-worth (dignity) would directly benefit in many ways. Using these findings, I present recommendations such as the creation of a new lens which is not entrenched in the context of social assistance. My recommendations could be implemented in order for the ODSP to take a rights- based approach and therefore, respect people with disabilities autonomy and dignity.

    Disability in France: The Legacy of World War I Catherine Danielou (The University of Alabama at Birmingham)

    Presenter: Catherine Danielou (The University of Alabama at Birmingham)

    As World War I changed the world’s geopolitical landscape it also had a profound social and cultural impact on France, affecting its demographics, its agriculture and industry, its cultures. Among the 18 million combatants and civilians who died globally, France counted 1.3 million combat-related deaths, roughly 1 for 5 soldiers. An estimated 4.2 million wounded made it alive in France. 300,000 were classified as “mutilated” or crippled. 15,000 suffered severe facial disfigurement. On June 28, 1919, the day the Treaty of Versailles was signed, five “broken faces,” those disfigured veterans, were invited to attend the ceremony by Georges Clemenceau, in an effort to highlight the scars and sacrifices paid by France and war veterans as well as officially shame and humiliate Germany. Large-scale artillery, automatic weapons and the use of chemicals in the context of trench warfare resulted not only in millions of deaths but also in the disabling of the bodies and souls of soldiers and civilians, with amputations, everlasting pulmonary sequelae, psychological wounds. Consequently, the Great War’s legacy also saw enormous progresses in medical advances, prosthetics, the birth of rehabilitation hospitals in France, and disability policies. The presentation will first examine how French society approached the question of handicap after the war, and developed rights and laws for its disabled veterans. As World War I is being memorialized 100 years later, the presentation will then analyze how war trauma, disability, and the changing landscape in disability rights and policies are perceived through contemporary French movies on WWI.

    Redefining Stature in Our Society Mark Povinelli (Little People of America) & Michelle Kraus (Little People of America)

    Presenters: Mark Povinelli (Little People of America) & Michelle Kraus (Little People of America)

    Little People of America, Inc. is an advocacy and social organization for people of short stature. Founded in 1957 by actor Billy Barty, we serve 8000 members comprised of people with dwarfism and their family members. Historically, we have been the leading voice on the issues directly affecting the dwarfism community. These issues impact the very core of who we are and our children having social, medical and identity implications. One of the charges that LPA leads with is advocating for community and individual respect, equal representation and full access to opportunities. In this climate of the erosion of legal and civil rights, the disability community is pressed upon to come together defend our existence and demand equal treatment.

    This workshop will educate its attendees about LPA's history, the advocacy matters which we have gotten involved, and the process in choosing effective and systemic advocacy strategies. We will also highlight our victories and our ongoing challenges as a non-profit, predominantly lay-led membership organization. We will want to hear from leaders from other disability organizations to learn about their models of advocacy and to understand best practices used in representing their constituencies.

    Michelle Kraus, Advocacy Director and Mark Povinelli , President of LPA will be leading an interactive discussion.

    Aid Workers with Disabilities in Humanitarian Aid Cara E. Yar Khan (RISE Consulting Services)

    Presenter: Cara E. Yar Khan (RISE Consulting Services)

    In 2010 Haiti endured the most devastating natural disasters of this century. Three hundred thousand people were killed, 1.3 million were displaced and thousands suffered serious injuries, such as amputations, spinal cord and brain injuries, complex multiple fractures and other massive trauma. Keeping people with disabilities, and their required accommodations, top of mind at decision making tables, in aid provision operations, relocation efforts and safety measures was a serious challenge, one that is ongoing today.

    Women’s Refugee Commission launched a project called Strengthening Networks of Women with Disabilities on Humanitarian Issues that supports women with disabilities to advocate and take leadership on humanitarian issues at national, regional and global levels. One component of the project, published in May 2016, was a global mapping on inclusion of women and girls with disabilities in humanitarian action. I am one of the women featured in their findings which reflects on the impact of my work in Haiti’s Emergency Response Operation.

    The general response from UNICEF’s counterparts and partners - from the President to the kids with disabilities we were trying so desperately to help - to a woman with a severe impairment working as an international aid worker was shock and skepticism. Little did they know how much my participation would change UNICEF conversations, influence the office culture, shatter stigma and stereotypes among the staff,and enrich our community engagement. It is critical to engage women and girls with disabilities, at all levels, local and international, in humanitarian action.

    Session 8: Disability Advocacy and Technology in the 21st Century

    Room: Skipwith
    Moderator: Mary Allison Cook (Lakeshore Foundation)

    Disability Data: Understanding the Global Landscape Ola Abu Alghaib (Leonard Cheshire)

    Presenter: Ola Abu Alghaib (Leonard Cheshire)

    Data disaggregated by disability is vital to support the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability (CRPD) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and specifically to support policy planning and implementation and monitoring by Disabled Peoples’ Organisations. Data collection is also an integral requirement of the CRPD (Article 31) and SDG 17, and these requirements are catalysing more systematic data collection efforts.

    However, disability data collection and analysis is a complex, dynamic and multi-dimensional process. To understand the data landscape better, Leonard Cheshire has analysed data from forty countries, across sixteen indicators, and published a report which provides an overview of the current disability data landscape. It offers insight and information which can be used by DPOs to monitor and evaluate efforts towards the implementation of the CRPD and SDGs.

    Alongside the report, Leonard Cheshire has launched an online disability data portal, a hub for disability data, which includes disability disaggregated statistics and integrated visuals:, with statistics largely collated from national surveys and censuses.

    Leonard Cheshire proposes to share key findings, which include; wide variations in prevalence of disability, people with disabilities perform less well on all education indicators, and internet use for people with disability is generally low, with women with disabilities markedly lower access to the internet than men. Furthermore, significant data gaps were found across a range of indicators. Leonard Cheshire will discuss how the global community can increase data collection efforts and undertake evidence based policy development and implementation.

    Disability Rights and Self-Advocacy Workshops Emily N. Baker (University of North Alabama), Andrea N. Hunt (University of North Alabama), & Stacy C. Lee (University of North Alabama)

    Presenters: Emily N. Baker (University of North Alabama), Andrea N. Hunt (University of North Alabama), & Stacy C. Lee (University of North Alabama)

    Collegiate students living with disabilities face unique challenges; however, Field, Sarver, and Shaw (2003) and Walker and Test (2011) indicate that the development of self- advocacy skills increases the likelihood of overall academic success. Self-advocacy skill acquisition positively impacts postsecondary employment transitions and outcomes as well. White et al. (2014) indicates that honing self-advocacy skills enables smooth transitions into postsecondary employment; furthermore, Roessler and Rumrill (1998), Meaux et al. (2009), and Stamp et al. (2014) posit that students who engage in self-advocacy experience better employment outcomes after graduation. Providing students an opportunity to learn about their rights under the ADA (1990) and ADAAA (2008) empowers them to initiate accommodation processes after college once employment begins. This research assesses the effectiveness of self-advocacy workshops offered through an office of Disability Support Services at a mid-sized regional university in the southeast. Data will be collected using the College Learning and Study Strategies Inventory (LASSI) prior to the workshops and a pre-test/post-test assessing the effectiveness of the workshops. Semi-structured interviews will be conducted after workshops end. Preliminary analyses indicate a statistically significant difference between the pre-test and post-test scores in the confidence of students’ ability to speak up for oneself (p .001) and request reasonable accommodations from future employers (p .001). Data collected will provide insight into how effective self-advocacy skills workshops are for current students and into what modifications are necessitated for optimum programming in the future.

    Tweet, Like, Share: Social Media and Disability Olivia Robinson (University of Alabama), Shannon Bridges (University of Alabama), Kimberley Tomeny (University of Alabama), & Robin McWilliam (University of Alabama)

    Presenters: Olivia Robinson (University of Alabama), Shannon Bridges (University of Alabama), Kimberley Tomeny (University of Alabama), & Robin McWilliam (University of Alabama)

    As social media has become a staple in today’s society to keep in touch with friends and family as well as stay up to date on news and emergencies, individuals with intellectual disabilities are often excluded from using social media platforms. Barriers include: (a) limited access by parent/guardian due to safety issues, (b) lack of access to technology, (c) educational and training barriers, and (d) complex devices or Internet sites (Caton & Chapman, 2016; Chadwick & Fullwood, 2018). Despite these barriers, the use of social media for individuals with disabilities has potential benefits such as decreasing social isolation and loneliness while increasing the frequency and quality of social interactions to help build more meaningful relationships (Chadwick, Wesson, & Fullwood, 2013). In this presentation, we will discuss the barriers associated with accessing social media as well as the benefits of social media for individuals with disabilities. Current curricula will be presented and potential challenges and solutions to address social media safety for individuals with intellectual disabilities will be discussed. We advocate for access to and knowledge of social media is a human right for all individuals with and without disabilities. The session will include a PowerPoint presentation and an accompanying handout, followed by an open discussion from audience members on the use of social media for individuals with intellectual disabilities.

    1:00 pm Keller Johnson Thompson Lunch and Keynote 4: Keller Johnson Thompson

    Helen Keller’s Engagement for Education and Disability Rights

    Keller Johnson Thompson was named after her great-great aunt, Helen Keller. She is the Director of Education of the Helen Keller Foundation, a foundation her grandmother helped to establish.

    Keynote will be live streamed on the Institute for Human Rights Facebook page

    2:30 pm Discussant Roundtable
    • Derrick Cogburn (Institute on Disability and Public Policy, American University)
    • Graham Sisson (Alabama Governor’s Office on Disability)
    • Barry McNealy (Birmingham Civil Rights Institute)
    • June Isaacson Kailes (Disability Policy Consultant)
    3:30 pm Closing Remarks and End of Conference
    • James Rimmer, Co-Director, UAB Center for Disability Health and Rehabilitation Science