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← Victoria Rodríguez-Roldán


Showing Revision 1 created 07/21/2020 by kirstenms.

  1. I'm Victoria Rodríguez-Roldán.
  2. I am, my day job is the
    Senior Policy Manager at AIDS United.
  3. We work to end the HIV epidemic.
  4. And I would say I am
    a disability advocate at heart
  5. because of my own
    mental health disabilities,
  6. and I bring that throughout my entire life
  7. to try to push disability world
    into one that is inclusive
  8. of all mental health
    and developmental disabilities,
  9. not just the photogenic disabilities.
  10. I was a year old when the ADA passed.
  11. I am 31 years old, and we're celebrating
    the 30th anniversary.
  12. So I have no memory, I grew up with it.
  13. My first memory of the ADA was my mother,
    who was diabetic,
  14. getting, talking about accommodations
    at her work to store insulin
  15. in the work fridge, along those lines.
  16. And I remember her talking about
    this new thing called the ADA.
  17. You know how people talk
    about work at home.
  18. But the ADA, I would say,
    I had my own mental conception
  19. of what is a disabled person
  20. until I myself was dealing with the,
    "I feel different,"
  21. both because of my being trans,
    because of my mental health,
  22. and eventually dealing with it and getting
    treatment when I was in law school,
  23. which I don't- Law school is always an
    interesting experience in and of itself.
  24. It's a three-year hazing ritual.
  25. But I would say one of the things
    that motivate me in disability
  26. is seeing just how much-
  27. In disability, we often treat people
    as either poor things of pity
  28. or as scary and need
    to be locked away, basically.
  29. Often, with physical disabilities,
    it's the object of pity.
  30. With mental health disabilities,
    it's the scary, let's lock them away,
  31. why are they allowing those people
    out in the community?
  32. And, having seen that,
    having been scared of it,
  33. having been worried about my career
    if I were out,
  34. which says a lot as a trans person
    being worried about being out
  35. as someone with
    a mental health disability,
  36. I don't think, I mean,
    I think we need to fundamentally alter
  37. how society sees what is normal
    and not normal,
  38. and how that works as far as
    being inclusive of all disabilities.
  39. I would say that one of the things
    that impact me the most
  40. was, for example, when I got out
    of law school.
  41. In law school, I received accommodations
    right as I was about to graduate
  42. and help from the Assistant Dean
    of Students, Sherry Abbott, at the time,
  43. because I was pretty much experiencing
    a lot of problems
  44. that were related to my disability.
  45. And that probably wouldn't have
    been possible without the ADA,
  46. without the spirit of it.
  47. And later, when I started my career,
    a few months later, actually,
  48. I joined as a Schedule A hire
    in the US Department of Labor.
  49. If it weren't for the initiative
    at the federal government
  50. that was partially inspired by the ADA
  51. to make sure that people with disabilities
  52. are hired by the federal government,
  53. then maybe I wouldn't have started
    in civil rights in DC when I did.
  54. So it has made a difference for me
  55. in receiving accommodations
    at the jobs I've had and so forth.
  56. So it is a question of how do we-
  57. We already have a whole generation
    like myself,
  58. who are in our early 30s and our 20s,
  59. all the millennials and zoomers,
  60. that don't remember the dark days
    before the ADA.
  61. But we can't just coast on the,
  62. "Yay, we did the ADA,
    now let's all go home and party,"
  63. because there is so much more
    work to be done, basically.
  64. People with disabilities are still
    routinely having to fight for their rights
  65. under the ADA to be solved.
  66. If we went around DC spotting
    architectural barriers,
  67. we could spot a dozen
    in a single mile radius.
  68. And that is a problem,
  69. and this is especially true,
  70. I like to talk about the sexy
    versus the non-sexy disabilities,
  71. when we talk about disability,
    people often get this
  72. inspiration porn mental image
    of the photogenic person in a wheelchair,
  73. extra bonus points
    if they're straight and white,
  74. but don't want to talk,
    and exclude from the picture,
  75. from that pretty group picture,
  76. the person who stutters,
    the person who has chronic pain
  77. and can't work because of it,
    the person with mental health disabilities
  78. who has had psychosis
    or other experiences like that.
  79. I mean, when we talk about mental health,
  80. we try and end the stigma
    and other such calls for action,
  81. we often focus on the idea of,
  82. let's talk about the people
    who were depressed
  83. and took some Prozac and got better,
  84. but don't want to talk about people
    who are in long-term institutions,
  85. about people who experience psychosis,
  86. about people who experience
    bipolar disorder, and so forth.
  87. And we need to be clear that it's all
    disabled people that matter, basically,
  88. at the risk of sounding
    All Lives Matter-ish,
  89. not just those we like the most.
  90. I would say, fundamentally,
    there needs to be a change
  91. in how federal law treats people
    with mental health disabilities.
  92. We need to fundamentally
    end institutionalization.
  93. We need to include
    universal health coverage,
  94. because people shouldn't be relying
    on having a job
  95. to have access to affordable healthcare.
  96. And I am also thinking, as a major change,
  97. the fundamental idea that people
  98. with mental health
    and developmental disabilities
  99. have rights in general.
  100. Fundamentally change the culture
    and also call in people.
  101. I like to tell people,
    "Use your privilege."
  102. Kind of like how they put the signs
    on the metro and the New York subway
  103. that say, "If you see something,
    say something."
  104. It applies here.
  105. If you see something ableist, say it.
  106. Don't wait till someone with a disability,
  107. who's exhausted of having to fight
    for themselves, has to say it.
  108. When people bring it up,
    evaluate and help them. Be an ally.