Disability Summit 2017 Presentations

10:10 AM, Colony Ballroom — Influencing Political Processes

Using ICTs to Enhance the Effective Participation of Persons with Disabilities in Global Governance

Derrick Coburn, Filippo Trevisan, Erin Spaniol, Maya Aguilara

There is currently a historic confluence of global development initiatives including the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDGs), New Urban Agenda, and the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) +10. These are unprecedented opportunities for inclusive development for persons with disabilities. However, many of the processes through which these initiatives are negotiated and implemented present significant accessibility barriers, which hinder effective participation by the global disability community. This presentation will review recent projects carried out by American University’s Institute on Disability and Public Policy (IDPP) to improve the accessibility of global governance processes through Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). These include: (1) a study of accessibility in global governance that identified key barriers through a global survey of disabled people’s organizations and subject-matter expert interviews; (2) the Disability Inclusive Development (DID) Collaboratory, which is a virtual organization that spans distance and supports interaction towards a common policy goal between stakeholders that was used to boost the participation of the global disability community in the recent Habitat3 U.N. conference; and (3) the CRPD mobile app, which provides ready access to the structure and content of the CRPD, its State Parties, engaged organizations and campaigns around the CRPD.

Crowd-sourcing the Disability Resistance

Filippo Trevisan

Since the November 2016 election, a growing number of online groups and initiatives have emerged that want to protect the rights of persons with disabilities in the wake of the uncertainty generated by the controversial Trump administration. One particular way of expressing dissent online has been by crowd-sourcing and disseminating thousands of personal stories of disability through blogs and social media. This presentation will assess the potential of this activist technique by reviewing the online Disability March (www.disabilitymarch.com) organized to protest the inauguration of Donald Trump in January 2017, which generated a blog that featured over 3,000 crowd-sourced contributions from persons with disabilities. First, the effects of this technique on mobilization are discussed, as individual narratives enable individuals with no prior activist experience to become politicized and facilitates the emergence of common experiences between people with different disabilities. This opens up new opportunities for pan-disability initiatives, which historically have been hampered by fragmentation in the disability community and the perceived stigma associated with the “disabled” identity. Second, the emergence of key threads in crowd-sourced protest narratives is considered to shed light on how disability grassroots actors coalesce around priorities in times of high uncertainty.

10:10 AM, Charles Carroll Room — Accommodation and Understanding in Educational Settings

There is No Pill For an Unkind Heart: The “Duty to Accommodate” and Limitations of Policy in Academic Settings

Keren Dali

This paper combines a collection of firsthand experiences with the analysis of university policies on accommodations for people with disabilities. Focusing on so-called “invisible disabilities’ (including but not limited to neurological and autoimmune disorders; psychiatric disorders; print disabilities; developmental and learning disabilities), it works to reflect on the continuous latent and overt discrimination against people with disabilities in academic settings. It will address formal university policies, including the 'duty to accommodate,' and possible failures of their implementation. Looking at policy limitations from the perspectives of ‘ethics’ vs. ‘morals,’ the paper will provide one possible answer to the pivotal conference question: why bias and discrimination against people with disabilities remain socially acceptable in the very settings that claim to champion the cause of equality and social justice. It will look at how those charged with policy implementation may abandon the foundational values of academia and engage in discriminatory practices. The paper will conclude with suggestions for improving the inclusion of people with disabilities in academic environments, mixing them with a sobering note that many issues cannot be resolved even through policies, education, and awareness.

Preparing Educators for Exceptional Learners

Ebony Terrell Shockley

The author reports written and verbal artifacts that reveal deficit dispositions in society and media outlets about exceptional learners. This presentation shows how college students, including teacher candidates, respond and interpret the artifacts and highlights best practices from coursework and professional development sessions that are designed to counter deficit perspectives.

11:10 AM, Colony Ballroom - Experience as Advocacy

Gossip as a Site of Resistance

Karina Hagelin

Gossip is a site of resistance, productive power, and platform for sharing experiences for marginalized communities, especially survivors of sexual and interpersonal violence, who are denied access to traditional information institutions. My work examines how survivors utilize gossip as a form of weaponized intimacy through zines and social media. I found that narratives, rooted in rape culture, about the “ideal victim” or “perfect survivor”, affect the efficiency and power of survivors’ gossip. Yet despite the negative consequences some survivors face, we still gossip, pointing to the inadequacy of current resources and justice for us. Thus, I call for allies of survivors to challenge these narratives of who is a “good survivor”, embrace “bad survivors”, understand gossip as a valuable information (re)source, and appreciate survivors’ vulnerabilities when they choose embrace gossip. I argue for creating transformative and innovative approaches to using gossip to seek justice for survivors, outside of the prison-industrial complex and cycles of injustice perpetuated by interlocking systems of oppression.

A Phenomenological Study: Lived Experience of Having a Physical Disability

Luanjiao Aggie Hu

In this paper I reflect on my personal experience of living with a physical disability in order to provide a phenomenological account of this lived experience. The paper also draws information from literature, personal narrative accounts and an interview conducted on UMD campus with a graduate student with a physical disability. It categorizes the lived experience into several salient themes and ends with a pedagogic orientation. The presentation aims to provide perspective and representation from people with disability. I also want to collect constructive feedback and comments to further enrich this research as I plan to conduct more interviews with people with physical disabilities to better understand the essence of this lived experience.

11:10 AM, Charles Carroll Room — Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, College and Careers

Preparing Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities for Paid Employment

Eric Cole

The presentation will share how the NIH Clinical Center hospital is preparing young adults with intellectual disabilities for paid employment using the Project SEARCH High School Transition Program model. The presentation will include an overview of the program, structure, discussion of worksite rotations, key lessons and outcomes to date. The NIH's mission is to uncover new knowledge that will lead to better health for everyone. Simply described, the goal of NIH research is to acquire new knowledge to help prevent, detect, diagnose, and treat disease and disability.

Post-Secondary Education For Students With Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Nancy Forsythe, David Wizer, Amy Dwyre D'Agati, Adrián Forsythe Korzeniewicz

Post-secondary education (PSE) for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities has expanded significantly since the recognition of these programs in the US DOE Higher Ed Act of 2008. This panel will bring participants up to date on developments in PSE in Maryland. We will also examine the national landscape, and research on PSE and its academic and employment-related benefits for participants.

1:20 PM, Colony Ballroom — Perceptions and Presentations of Disability

How Hollywood Can and Will Help Marylanders with Disabilities

Jennifer Mizrahi, Lauren Appelbaum

Learn about efforts in Hollywood and beyond to change the images and portrayals of disability on television and in film -- and how that can impact education, jobs and independence for people with disabilities in Maryland. Presenters, who Maryland-based but are advisers to the Emmy-winning TV show Born This Way which stars 7 diverse adults with Down syndrome and other shows, are working systematically to raise expectations and outcomes for PwDs in Maryland and around the world.

Shame, Blame, and Stigma: The Experiences of People with Type 2 Diabetes

Gagan Jindal, Beth St. Jean

Over the past few decades, the prevalence of diabetes among U.S. adults has grown exponentially, more than doubling from 3.6% in 1990 to 8.4% in 2014 (age-adjusted figures taken from https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/statistics/prev/national/figageadult.htm). The CDC estimates that by 2050, diabetes may affect as many as 1 in 3 U.S. adults (https://www.cdc.gov/media/pressrel/2010/r101022.html). Despite its increasing prevalence, there remains a great deal of social stigma around this health condition, particularly targeting people who have type 2 diabetes (which makes up 90 to 95% of diabetes cases) and who are obese. In this presentation, we will explore the feelings of shame and blame and other manifestations of stigma perceived by adults with type 2 diabetes, along with their descriptions of how these feelings and their experiences of stigma in their daily lives impacted their motivation, confidence, and ability to successfully manage this disease. In conclusion, we will offer strategies for increasing the public’s awareness and understanding of diabetes, and discuss ways in which we can work toward reducing the stigma that has surrounded this disease for far too long.

1:20 PM, Charles Carroll Room — Incorporating Disability Issues into Higher Education

Advocating for Diverse Audience: Bringing disabilities studies to the Technical Writing Classroom

Daune O'Brien

Technical Writing grounded in rhetorical theory looks closely at usability and audience accommodation without necessarily drawing specific connections to accessibility-related issues within the disability community. While most Technical Communication scholars prioritize principles that consider cultural and ethical implications when writing rhetorically, the disability community is typically excluded from the cultural and ethical analysis. A recent review of popular Technical Writing teaching materials indicates a critical need for Technical Writing instructors to consider ways in which we might include disability-related studies in the course curriculum. My research argues for more transparent and concrete course objectives that aim to specifically highlight universal design and emphasize disability studies as a premier theme within the Technical Writing discipline. Since Technical Writing principles govern the way we teach students how to design and share information that will meet the needs of various audiences, Technical Writing instructors are in a unique position to advocate for diverse audiences by drawing important connections between the Technical Communication field and the disability community.

Teaching Disability Theory to Undergraduates Through The Spatial Humanities

Joseph Aldinger

This paper shows how the spatial and digital humanities can be used to introduce students to current scholarly conversations in disability studies. Following the trend in disability theory that questions the ablest foundations for our understanding of space, I show how Euclidian geography can help students better understand scholarly conversations concerning accessibility in new and empowering ways. I discuss a story mapping assignment in which students are able to use digital software to create interactive projects that explain their research on space and wheel-chair access while also advocating for material change based upon it. More than asking students to research why a countertop or handrail is set at a certain height, students map a differently abled individual's experience of space in order to address how spaces can be disabling. In short, I show how the digital and spatial humanities can increase student engagement while also demonstrating how student research can be transformed into advocacy.

2:10 PM, Colony Ballroom — Building Support and Forming Coalitions

Deaf and Disability Coalitions During Political Upheaval: Reconfiguring Access and Inclusion

Jessica Murgel, Dirksen Bauman, Patrick Boudreault, Elizabeth Diflo, Kaj Kraus

In the current political moment, it has become more important than ever for marginalized communities to develop productive coalitions. As both Deaf and Disabled communities experience ableist social structures, both communities would be strengthened through such an alliance. In order for this to happen, historic tensions centering on the nature of inclusion must be directly addressed. This presentation problematizes disability inclusion from a critical Deaf Studies standpoint by asking: what does inclusion typically mean when signing deaf people are present, how are these forms of inclusion insufficient, and what are some ways that inclusion can be conceptualized and practiced otherwise? Haualand (2008) posits that the experience of sound leads to a sense of collective belonging and sense of co-presence among non-signers, which excludes signing people. In order to construct optimally inclusive spaces, we must bridge the diverse ways of navigating and orienting to the world through our sensory experiences. This presentation will push the boundaries of well-intended, liberal-minded practices of “inclusion” through a performative negotiation of what it might look like to participate in such an inclusive setting, for both the presenters and audience. Using the current political moment as our springboard, this will be an interactive presentation to creatively and productively reimagine how we can develop a deaf and disability coalition, given the ever pressing need to efface divisiveness, while also workshopping and rethinking what full access and inclusion mean, to provide spaces wherein these coalitions can emerge to push back against ableist social structures. Haualand, H. (2008). Sound and Belonging: What Is a Community?. In H-D. Bauman (Ed.), Open Your Eyes (pp. 111-123). Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.

Supporting College Students with Disabilities in the Age of Trump

Capria Berry, Matthew Mueller

This session will delve into the world of higher education inclusivity for students with disabilities. Under the new presidential administration, college campuses are in many ways small samples of society, and have been for many decades. We will explore how disability identity, legislation, ableism, student involvement and political climate intersect at colleges around the country. We will explain some programs, initiatives and areas of growth for our own institution, along with tools colleagues can take back to their home institutions. We will discuss how to make best practices next practices in a way that leaves room to tailor each component to different institution types and schools with different values and missions.

2:10 PM, Charles Carroll Room — Disability Studies in Undergraduate Education

Disability Studies: Student Presentations

Carolyn Fink, Peter Leone, students

3:10 PM, Colony Ballroom — Employment and Employability


Nancy Forsythe, Amy McLaughlin

This panel will report the findings of a Moving Maryland Forward grant. The grant examined the status of students with disabilities on campus, with particular reference to career preparation and job search. We will present findings from our interviews with staff and faculty on campus, our University Career Center workshops with students with disabilities (SWD) and their allies, and our focus groups with SWD. SWD have been a neglected group on our campus; we will address this marginalization and speak to recent changes on campus that hold promise for an improved campus climate for students with disabilities.

How WIOA Opened the Workforce System for People with Disabilities

Philip Pauli

One of the main goals of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, or WIOA, was to empower more people with disabilities to enter the workforce. Passed in 2014 with bipartisan support, this new law has fundamentally changed how our nation’s workforce system does business with new requirements around accessibility, vocational rehabilitation, transition services and serving job seekers with disabilities. Each state was required to develop and implement a comprehensive plan about how to implement this law. Throughout this process RespectAbility has been working with state leaders to adopt best practices and model programs that will provide greater opportunities for Americans with disabilities to become independent and earn an income. In fact, we were the only national disability organization to review and comment on all 50 state WIOA Plans. This presentation will discuss the diverse state policies adopted to satisfy the requirements of WIOA and compares employment outcomes across diverse states. We will present to our audience a clear statement of the public policies that are moving the needle of youth transitions into the workforce, what states are doing to part with growing job sectors and the workforce system has transformed in a few short years. Attendees will gain a clear view of what works in terms of disability employment and how to advocate for cost-effective solutions.

3:10 PM, Charles Carroll Room — Culture and Communication

Tips for Creating Accessible Documents

Sue Johnston

This presentation will describe accessibility standards for students, faculty and staff at the university, and identify common accessibility errors in MS Office documents, pdfs, and presentations. Attendees will learn how to adapt course content to meet accessibility guidelines and state and federal accessibility requirements, while also creating a more inclusive learning experience for all students.

Pathways to Resilience: Perspectives from the Guamanian Sign Language Community

Heather Zimmerman

Marginalized groups tend to experience significant adversity throughout their lives related to deficit perspectives from groups in power. In spite of difficult circumstances, some are remarkably resilient. The current mixed methods study interviewed hearing caregivers and Deaf1 and hard of hearing (DHH) adults on Guam, in order to understand what they think about doing well and success related to deaf people. Findings suggest that educators and professionals can help foster deaf children’s resilience and success by connecting the child and their parents with the Deaf community. By developing trusting relationships and the ability to communicate creatively, deaf children will be able to retrieve, experience, foster and/or maintain resilience.