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Showing Revision 1 created 05/01/2021 by Marisa Martinez.

  1. So,
  2. My name is Michelle Nario - Redmond
  3. I am a social psychologist and
  4. I teach at Hiram College
  5. in psychology and biomedical
    humanities program
  6. and I just wrote a book on ableism
    the causes and consequences
  7. of disability prejudice.
    My first memory
  8. and I'll just back up and say in 1990,
  9. when the ADA passed
    I was in graduate school,
  10. in Kansas, and disability prejudice,
    the ADA or anything
  11. related to disability issues
    were completely off my radar,
  12. and I worked at a place
    where one of the pioneers
  13. of disability studies worked,
    Beatrice Wright,
  14. and I hadn't yet to have a class with her.
  15. It really wasn't until 1995,
    which was five years later,
  16. when my daughter was born,
    Sierra, with spina bifida,
  17. that I became aware
    of disability and found the work
  18. of Carol Gill and Simi Linton
    and began to educate myself
  19. on disability studies and its scope,
    and the first memory I have of
  20. confronting inaccessible spaces
    was a few years later, when we enrolled
  21. my daughter Sierra in a preschool,
    at a catholic preschool,
  22. right down the road; and it just didn't
    even dawn on me that we would have to
  23. work so hard for her to be accommodated
    as a preschooler,
  24. and it was really a function of
    the fact that the building was older,
  25. there were steps, and they really didn't
    know, nor did they need to legally know,
  26. about reasonable accommodations
    and civil rights of their students,
  27. because they were a private facility and
    weren't subject to the ADA's rules.
  28. So... it became clear to me that
    we needed to find a new preschool,
  29. and luckily we found a private,
    another private place. It wasn't
  30. a public school, but it
    was a music school settlement
  31. and they had resources
    and they were already operating
  32. under a sort of set of presumptions
    about the value of diversity
  33. and diverse perspectives,
    and we didn't really have to ask for much,
  34. because they bent over backwards
    to include my daughter
  35. in a typical classroom, with her peers,
    her preschool peers, music classes,
  36. there were so many eclectic
    movement classes,
  37. and they even purchased
    equipment for their exercise room
  38. and movement room
    that would be useful to her among others,
  39. and she has since grown up to become
    this teacher and has applied

  40. to work there as a preschool teacher.
    So, I think it would be really
  41. amazing, if she came full circle.
    But, I guess, to stance the broader
  42. question about being frustrated and aware
    of inaccessibility and lack of inclusion,
  43. we were in a district that, when she then,
    was about to move to preschool, I
  44. knew that she wouldn't probably be able to
    go to a private school, not only because
  45. of the financial cost, but because
    they would not have to think about
  46. best practices and the law when
    it came to accommodating
  47. their students with disabilities,
    and so I knew we would be
  48. looking at the public school, and the
    public school in our neighborhood
  49. was not accessible. We went to visit it,
    the playground had a little house
  50. that she wouldn't have been
    able to get into,
  51. and it was really disheartening
    and so it came at a time
  52. when we were already looking
    for other opportunities,
  53. and my husband got an opportunity
    to move us as a family
  54. to the West Coast
    of Portland of Oregon, and
  55. so the way I...we had to
    navigate her early educational experiences
  56. was to only look at spaces and schools
    that were in districts that were new,
  57. so that had buildings
    and had training in terms of
  58. accommodating their diverse students
    and their disabled students,
  59. because just having the brief experiences
    that I did with the preschool
  60. and IEP meetings that were going to
    require me to fight at every juncture
  61. for her basic rights
    to show what she knows
  62. and participate and recognize herself
    as a valuable contributor
  63. to the school community.
    We're not going to be forthcoming
  64. without a fight,
    and so we narrowed our search
  65. to a district,
    and thank God we had the opportunity
  66. and the resources to do this,
    that was pretty known for their
  67. inclusivity.
  68. We did that also when we came back
    to the Cleveland, Ohio area.
  69. We were able to avoid all districts
    that weren't at the cutting edge
  70. of full inclusion and proof of excellence
    and had newer buildings
  71. that could accommodate those
    with disabilities,
  72. but I guess that that was my earliest
    memory of how, 'Oh, we have a road
  73. ahead of us and we have to take it upon
    ourselves to either continue to fight
  74. ahead of us and we have to take it upon
    ourselves to either continue to fight
  75. and organizations that were ahead
    of the curve
  76. in terms of implementing, monitoring and
    just execute the basic civil rights
  77. of their various constituents
  78. The impact that all of that has had on me
    is to just be able to communicate
  79. with other parents and students
    with disabilities
  80. about not only knowing their rights but
    knowing how to get those rights
  81. how to advocate for ensuring that those
    rights are addressed, are met.
  82. I think the ADA has made
    a huge difference
  83. and the aha moment was even when I was
    collating information for this book
  84. on disability prejudice. I realized that
    when I was a kid,
  85. when I was growing up in the 60's and
    70's, people with disabilities weren't
  86. able to do any of the things that we took
    for granted as kids: go to the movies
  87. go to restaurants, go to visit a friend,
    at a friend's house, or invite
  88. others to your birthday parties.
  89. And, since the ADA passed in 1990,
    it wasn't an immediate set of changes,
  90. as, you know, there has been significant
    progress made, particularly in public
  91. spaces and in employment settings,
    where there are even employers
  92. who are part of an organization
    of inclusive excellence, who
  93. recognize that disabled employees are
    actually more reliable and
  94. have less turnover and are worth
    investing in and promoting.
  95. But, there are still so many places,
    small businesses, educational institutions
  96. that are not carrying out the basic,
    sort of gains and practices that the ADA
  97. has made possible .There's just way too
    much variation, and I think part of that
  98. is just a lack of education in
    terms of what
  99. is reasonable and what is necessary
  100. in terms of accommodating your citizenry
  101. and lack of resources in some cases but
  102. also a lot of misinformation about whether
  103. or not it's worth it. You know,
    the ADA is going to
  104. be 30 here in July. We're
    celebrating around
  105. the country and we are still fighting
  106. for businesses to do what they should have
  107. done 30 years ago, those that have been
  108. around this long. They have not, they have
  109. have waited for complaints or they have
  110. failed to do but the bare minimum in
  111. terms of recruiting the largest minority
  112. I work in the education sphere and to me,
  113. we could be doing so much more with
  114. advertising and recruiting for those kinds
  115. of students that we tend to really, at
  116. least my institution, do well to retain
  117. because we're a small, intimate college,
  118. Hiram College. And, and for
    years I've tried to sort of
  119. encourage us to consider more universally
  120. designed approaches, but also approaches
  121. that do more than the bare minimum
    when it comes to housing and
  122. extracurricular accommodations for
  123. students to who use mobility devices. For
  124. example, my daughter ended up having to be
  125. carried in her chair, to various club
  126. meetings while she was on the Hiram
  127. College campus. She was told that,
    during the
  128. winter, when the ice storms came, that
  129. they couldn't transport her up the long
  130. hill, while they were
    telling everyone
  131. else to walk like a penguin, and we had
  132. vans to do this. We had to file with the
  133. Ohio Disability Rights Commission and
  134. request that the school thinks about other
  135. ways of accommodating her, should there
  136. be a storm, an ice storm, and she can't
  137. get up to campus.
    And the solution
  138. was to have her move to a
    new dorm.
  139. You can't just do that over night.
  140. You can't just move all your bedding
  141. and all your bathroom supplies
  142. and all your bathroom supplies
  143. notice, when the weather changes
  144. and so it has been my experience that
  145. still a lot of places have done
    the bare minimum approach
  146. and think that that's all they need to do
  147. when instead, they could be following more
  148. of the latest practices and
    implementation's science
  149. and making it easier for people to
  150. register concerns or complaints. And
  151. they often don't even need to file a
  152. formal complaint issue, if you
    approach a business or
  153. your educational institution
    with an issue.
  154. Often times, progressive thinkers that
    recognize the value of
  155. customers with disabilities frequenting
    their businesses or
  156. diversifying their faculty or their
    student body
  157. will simply not be aware that they have
    failed to accommodate or
  158. make accessible various programs
    and spaces
  159. And that can be as simple as asking.
    But a lot of times a lot more
  160. has to be done, you have to document
    you have
  161. to make sure your emails go to
    multiple people
  162. and make the business case of why
    surveying your policies
  163. to see whether they are biases or whether
  164. there is discrimination in filing of
  165. complaints or even you have a title
  166. of, you know, an officer on campus
    or ADA - coordinator
  167. so that you can let students
    with disabilities know
  168. who may have not proper documentation
  169. how they can go about making sure that
  170. they get what they need to show
  171. what they know, before they fail classes
  172. because they haven't knocked at the door
  173. of disability services and provided proof
  174. that they have a particular condition
  175. So I know, I am sort of rambling a bit,
  176. but I just, just wasn't aware of how much
  177. further we need to go when it comes to
  178. surveying and making sure that the ADA
  179. is being implemented and just because
  180. a law passes doesn't mean again

  181. that it is just going to happen
  182. you have to have allies and activists
  183. and insiders working very hard
  184. to make sure that people are recognizing
  185. the value of legislation
  186. which I think, still people are under
  187. the assumption that it applies to
  188. people who identify with disabilities but
  189. I don't think that was even necessarily
  190. even the intent of the ADA
  191. I think it recognizes that people flow
  192. in and out of abilities and the extent to
  193. which they are excluded or discriminated
  194. against, because of their abilities is
  195. really what this legislation was about
  196. even having a record of having a
  197. condition that maybe you no longer have
  198. or you had it temporarily can mean that
  199. you might be excluded. If you applied for
  200. jobs recently, you know, many places
  201. require a statement. You have to indicate
  202. based on strict definitions whether you
  203. have limitations in these major life
  204. activities that will qualify you as a
  205. disabled person and I want to believe that
  206. they are asking those questions, so that
  207. they can mindfully recruit people with
  208. disabilities to join their ranks, their
  209. staffing, but sometimes I think what
  210. prevents people from using that
  211. information to disqualify candidates
  212. so there has to be checks and balances
  213. and accountabilities when it comes to
  214. making sure your civil rights legislation
  215. doesn't put all of the owners on the
  216. group itself to file and follow through
  217. and figure out which parts of the ADA are
  218. being violated. You know that can be
  219. being violated. You know that can be
  220. do is go out and you know, go to the beach
  221. and find out which beaches are accessible
  222. or whether there is, you know, a mobility
  223. devices that are available via the sand or
  224. you just want to go camping or you just
  225. want to go frequent people who are
  226. minorities on businesses or disabilities
  227. on businesses and some of this is out
  228. on businesses and some of this is out
  229. books and activists pages,
    but there is just so
  230. much that we can do to leverage more of
  231. these ways of monitoring and implementing
  232. and taking access to
    the next level whether
  233. for the disabled community pro forma or
  234. proper or for anyone who uses strollers
  235. who might carry a lot of materials in
  236. their hands could benefit from a push
  237. button. I think we need all to do a better
  238. job at making the business and the
  239. other benefit cases for improving our ADA
  240. access. Where my passions lie of late is
  241. in getting out the votes because we know
  242. that disabled people have been
  243. disenfranchised from the vote and from
  244. parenting and from all kinds of other
  245. basic human rights but this being an election
  246. year there is all kinds of folks working
  247. to crip the vote, #cripthevote Alice Wong
  248. and others who have been trying to make
  249. sure that candidates for president and for
  250. congressional offices and even local
  251. campaigns are expressing what their stance
  252. is on the ADA and on disability rights and
  253. human rights and hold, for the first
  254. time we've seen some traction on that.
  255. But what people don't realize is how many
  256. places are not accessible to voters with
  257. disabilities either
    because they use
  258. assisted technologies that don't
  259. inter-phase with the electronic equipment
  260. or they can't get accessible
  261. or the place itself is simply inaccessible
  262. or they are institutionalized and barred
  263. from voting because of that and so the
  264. center for American progress has been
  265. publishing some of the numbers, like over
  266. 60% of polling places are considered
  267. inaccessible. That's a problem. So voting
  268. by mail may benefit a lot of groups if
  269. you think of some of that in the future.
  270. And then the second big issue we should
  271. follow up on that not many people know
  272. about and that I am not even so clear as
  273. how is the ADA serves the population of
  274. people who are incarcerated in jails and
  275. in prisons and in institutions. I know the
  276. ADA amendments have been 2009 done a
  277. better job of successfully helping folks
  278. litigate when they are isolated and there
  279. for not included because of their
  280. institutionalized placements, but I also
  281. I am aware that not many people know about
  282. the number, the sheer numbers of people
  283. with disabilities visible and a lot of
  284. invisible who are incarcerated
    and who have been
  285. caught up in that system of jailing and
  286. aren't getting what they need inside or
  287. should have never been incarcerated to
  288. begin with because maybe they experience
  289. a condition that was misunderstood from
  290. the outset and so instead of deescalating
  291. a situation. Police need more training, we
  292. need to make the public more aware of how
  293. many people are languishing in the
  294. institutions where they are not only not
  295. productive, but you know what a waste of
  296. human capital. So, as we think about
  297. the black lives matter movement and the
  298. opportunities for intersectionality, I
  299. think the opportunities for allies of all
  300. kinds of civil rights groups need to come
  301. together and really leverage their powers
  302. to begin to think about not necessarily
  303. just defunding police or the decarcerating
  304. institutions but recognizing how many
  305. people of color have disabilities,
    how many
  306. women, and how many are incarcerated with
  307. disabilities that may not
    even belong there
  308. so there is so much to be done on those
  309. two funds alone. And, clearly employment,
    you know that
  310. people are still way under employed but I
  311. know there are folks working to improve
  312. that and I am trying to work with those
  313. organizations to arise awareness about
  314. how they can do better in terms of
  315. their work force and retaining
    and recruiting actively
  316. professionals who, you know, they may not
  317. consider as a valuable resource but gosh
  318. people with disabilities
    are some of the
  319. most creative folks because they had to
  320. figure out how navigate and they do have
  321. persepectives that are normally based on
  322. maybe their particular
    impairment experiences
  323. but having to navigate the world that
  324. isn't accessible, how to find the backdoor
  325. how to find the policies and so there is a
  326. lot of resilience to be found there, too.
  327. We need to be asking community members to
  328. confront ableism when they see it and part
  329. of that is educating people on the various
  330. forms that disability prejudice
    and discrimination can take.
  331. There is an interesting moment right now
  332. with regard to anti-racism frameworks
  333. that are getting a lot of traction and
  334. people are beginning to, at least
    educational institutions,
  335. start teaching circles where many of us
  336. are reading Ibram Kendis book how to be an
  337. anti-racist, how to first recognize when
  338. prejudice and discrimination exist on the
  339. bases of race, that we could also be doing
  340. with books related to disability prejudice
  341. and ableism but I really think the moment
  342. is now to consider some of the things at
  343. the same time because I think we may loose
  344. nuances of people who are confronting
  345. multiple oppressions. Though, I am just
  346. bringing that up because I know there is a
  347. lot of folks at my school now thinking
  348. about that we review policies to find out
  349. whether our syllabi are discriminatory
  350. whether our policies
    for recruitment may have
  351. things embedded or cooked into the
  352. algorithms that are unintentionally
  353. excluding or failing to retain or promote
  354. those with disabilities
    at our institutions
  355. and so, when I think about the next steps
  356. what people can do I come
    back to, you know
  357. when people say something and they may
  358. just not know, they are not familiar
  359. perhaps with folks with
    various disabilities
  360. and we know that contact with people who
  361. experienced disabilities and differences
  362. is what makes people less prejudice
  363. they become much more aware of the
  364. whole person and our stereotypes are not
  365. generalize-able and how if they listened
  366. to the voices of disabled people they can
  367. hear first hand what is problematic and
  368. we need to be doing by allowing folks with
  369. disabilities to speak, to be heard and
  370. then to support their agendas and not
  371. necessarily just take over.
    So, the confrontation
  372. literature is all about not necessarily
  373. saying: "Hey, you are a jerk.
    You just said
  374. something racist or ableist" and putting
  375. people on their defensive heels. That we
  376. can do this in ways that actually open up
  377. dialogues and that we should be
  378. encouraging difficult dialogues and brave
  379. conversations around what we can do
  380. locally in our houses, in our communities
  381. in our schools and organizations to make
  382. one change, to make one difference: to ask
  383. what is our policy, do we know whether all
  384. of our employees know what their rights
  385. are, should we be scheduling regular
  386. meetings with the ADA coordinator, so that
  387. folks know how to find information and how
  388. to request a accommodation. Would it be
  389. great if parents went into an IEP Meeting
  390. at their schools, knowing what their kids
  391. got as accommodations. I think people are
  392. so non forthcoming at organizations with
  393. the things that they view as
    special privileges that are
  394. only for those who, quote on quote, need
  395. it or deserve it. And when we look at
  396. disability rights as special privileges,
  397. we don't see them as civil rights that are
  398. required to be met and so we could be much
  399. more transparent about making sure our
  400. websites are not only
    accessible to navigate
  401. if you have a sensory or other impairments
  402. but to make explicit what the policy is
  403. for requesting a accommodations, how you
  404. not be fired for disclosing for example
  405. how we can confront things in
    non-aggressive way.
  406. To ask people when they say something
  407. pejorative or maybe just outdated, you
  408. know, the word "handicap" is still out
  409. there i call it "handicrap", the word
  410. "special"' and we can just ask " what do
  411. you mean by that, what do you mean that
  412. they can't do that or that you curious
  413. about how they have sex, can you tell me
  414. more about why you think that and it can
  415. start a dialogue and that is something we
  416. can all do. I am still working hard to
  417. make my own home accessible to my 24 year
  418. old. We did construction to modify the
  419. house when we first bought it is a single
  420. level so that she feel like she was a part
  421. of the family and
    be able to get to all
  422. parts of the kitchen and her bathroom but
  423. there you know the laundry room has one
  424. step that we are still negotiating how to
  425. make sure that she can get into garage but
  426. things like where we put things in the
  427. refrigerator. You know if you have a
  428. wheelchair user in your
    family or someone
  429. who is a little person who may have a
  430. congenital or an otherwise amputated limb
  431. and we put things on shelves without even
  432. thinking about who can access the shelf
  433. and my other child who happens to be abled
  434. bodied would, you know, before dinner try
  435. to get a snack and before we could even
  436. to get a snack and before we could even
  437. snack. My daughter would have to come in
  438. and say "Can I, can you get something of
  439. the top shelf from me and then we would
  440. say, you know, why don't you wait until
  441. dinner time and we have to be mindful
  442. about which drawers we want to put her
  443. things into. She can not
    feel like a second
  444. class citizen in her own family space and
  445. those are some things that we can remind
  446. our peers who have kids with disabilities
  447. as we try to go on and educated another
  448. parents in our parenting roles and our
  449. roles as educators and who are diversity
  450. committees. Our diversity committee now is
  451. taking on accessibility as part of our
  452. mental and trying to
    convince others that we
  453. need to be doing ongoing data collection
  454. to benchmark, I think a lot of people are
  455. afraid of data that might say "your campus
  456. climate isn't the most accessible" but
  457. unless you name the thing,
    unless you document the thing
  458. that is perhaps of concern of a less then
  459. fully inclusive or accessible, you can't
  460. make progress. And, I think people
  461. appreciate, you know, the one in four
  462. or five people with disabilities and
  463. their families appreciate when people say
  464. "we are not there yet, but this is what we
  465. are doing and in a short term we will have
  466. reviewed our handbooks so that at least
  467. this is done by this year and next year we
  468. are going to advertise for positions in
  469. places to increase the number of disabled
  470. people on our staff, because students need
  471. mentors. They need to see people that look
  472. like them and then have similar challenges
  473. so that they know what is possible, so I
  474. just sort of conclude by
    saying my daughter,
  475. you know, made it through preschool and
  476. has been in several different kinds of
  477. spaces on college campuses that aren't so
  478. accessible and that are. She is working
  479. in the education as a preschool teacher
  480. herself. But since
    the covid-19 outbreak
  481. she was laid off, she was furloughed from
  482. her brand new job. And, of late she is
  483. putting resumes back out and there must be
  484. something about the pandemic now where not
  485. many people are wanting to go back to work
  486. in close encounters with kids. She is
  487. getting one interview after another and so
  488. she may end up with multiple offers now
  489. and I remind her to tell the folks that
  490. preschools when they get someone like her
  491. on their staff so many students gravitate
  492. towards her because
    she has these visible signs
  493. of her disability, her wheelchair and if
  494. you can educate the youngs,
    the preschoolers and show them
  495. that people of all
    abilities can be teachers
  496. and parents and ongoing
    learners and you know
  497. they tend to even those kids with behavior
  498. problems, they want to come
    to her. They see as this
  499. beacon of hope, I think, that is a real
  500. cue for these employers who ever gets my
  501. daughter as a teacher
    is going to be lucky.