DC Trainers Network Monthly Skillshare Notes

Disability Justice and Accessible Facilitation 

January 8th, 2014


 Notes about the framing of this workshop:

        •This is a big topic that should/could take many days. This is just a snippet of a much bigger picture. 

        •We’re not assuming who People with Disabilities are and who aren’t. 

        •We’ve tried to Model inclusion

        •Normalizing ramp entrance

        •Conversation/Openness to offer accomodations

        •Asking re: needs at the opening

        •ASL interpreters 

 Participant Reasons for participating: 

•Expand A/O frameworks


•Has disabilities, wants to learn to be more accessible

•Interested in making accessible spaces/does a lot of trainings

•Here to be more conscious of disabilities and creating welcoming spaces

•Life and work trainings – disability and disability justice to be part of their work

•Family members/loved ones

•Personal/Organizational perspective – preparing and creating and responding to accessibility requests

•Has been trying to make trainings w/ org more accessible over the past year; looking for a more proactive approach

•Just here to learn

•Excited to learn through Matt & Carol

•Friends who do disability justice work, wants to support them in that

•Change thinking as a person, practices, and as an organizer

Pairshare: Recent events and PwD access

Ways that events were PwD accessible: 


•ASL interpretation

•Large print hand outs

•Checking in with people

•Having sighted guides available if there are blind people available (without assuming people want or need it) 

•Scent Free

•Less Noise

Things that made events not accessible: 

•Narrow doorways/residential space

•Breakout small groups where there was a lot of talking happening in a small space (hard to hear) 

•Conference across a large campus – no mechanism to help people to get across the campus

•Bad sound system

•Lack of request for scenet/fragrance free (chemical sensitivities)

•Marches without guide paths

•Language – lame, crazy, schitzo, 

•“Get the energy up” – stand up

•Uneven ground

•Lack of communication around planning to get to the event

Disability – defining:

       •Contested term, some people prefer to frame disability as a difference that varies from the norm 

       •Conversation about whether or not it’s an impairment – attitudinal, physical, and institutional 

       •Perceived, physical, nonphysical, mobility, pain related, cognitive, mental

Difference in disability experiences: 

       •What disability looks like can vary from one person from time to time – there’s policing about whether or not someone is “actually” disabled. 

       •Facilitators will provide notes & additional resources after this – and will make sure that participants get access to it. 

       •Disability isn’t the difficult piece (says facilitator Carol), it’s the social barriers that exist. 

       •Under capitalism, disability means you don’t work. Charity model, the “super crip” model – the inspirational person with a disability. Attitudinal barriers are significant. 

       •PwD’s among the most marginalized people – healthcare, education, less access to integrated/compatititve jobs, accessible, affordable house – higher rates of poverty, sexual assault, 

       •Only minority you can join at any point. 


Disability and the Left:

       •Essay – Douglass Baynton – “Disability and the justification of in Equality in America”

       •Argument that minorities (women, poc’s, etc) have been marked as disabled (ie, during the suffragist movement, men called women “feeble minded” – which is ablist)

       •This oppressed minority is disabled/less than  – and the movement’s response isn’t solidarity with PwD’s, but rather, to distance themselves from them. 

       •Most of the way that this conversation has been framed (see timeline handout)  –


Disability and Disability Rights Timeline (abridged):

       •1848 – Eugenics coined *genetic quality*. Immigrants. Disability: Immorality

       •1927 – Supreme Court Buck and Bull Forced Sterilization. 60,000+ by 1970’s

       •1935 – The League for the Physically Handicapped protests WPA – 9 day sit in

       •1962 – Ed Roberts sues U.C. to gain admission

       •1964- Civil Rights Act – race, religion, national origin, gender

       •1968- ABA BART – wheelchairs

       •1970- Rolling Quads – CA. Disabled in Action- L.I.Un:/NYC

       •1972- First CIL DC Metro lawsuit. Madison Ave Nixon Protest. VA creates Steril. Rehab Act

       •1973- Rehab Act prohibits disc. With federal money.

       •1975- Education act – free in least restriction K-12

       •1978- ADAPT forms in Denver

       •1988- Deaf President NOW Protest @ Gallaudet

       •1990- GW Bush signs ADA. ADAPT changes focus

       •1999- Olmstad vs. L.C.

       •2004- 1st Disability pride parade in Chicago

       •2005- TN Medicaid cuts 75 day sit in

       •2006- Gallaudet protest

       •2012- CRPD Fails 5 votes

Models of how to approach disabilities:

       Social Model

       Social structures as Problem

•Physical exclusion



•Legal barriers


Medical Model

Person and Impairment as Problem

•Separate transport

•“Helping” strangers




•Sheltered workshops

•Government agencies

       Social justice oriented model:

       •Disability justice Model – – younger, more PoC, LGBT –  core inclusion is one of the 

       •Naomi Ortiz’s brainchild. Most of the people who were named earlier – “leaders” – were white, many came from wealthy families and were fighting to get into to college. The Disability Rights              field is mostly white – and people involved in that space who are PoC’s have a hard time with that – and Disability Justice comes partly out of that marginalization w/in mainstream Disability              Rights spaces.

       •Collaborating across disabilities and collaborating across other social justice communitie

       •Prioritizes self care and safer spaces. 

       •This movement pushes the larger SoJo communities to think about social justice, but inversely, it pushes the social justice community to think about intersectionality. 

Breakout groups – Scenarios & Notes: 

Scenario 1:

You work with a tenants’ organization that is planning a media training for its members.  The goal is to help members to tell their stories of the challenges they will face if they are priced out of their current homes. Discuss the types of stories you might highlight and the way that you’ll conduct the training.

Note: There is a severe shortage of housing that is accessible to people with disabilities, affordable or otherwise, and retrofitting is very expensive.

Breakout Notes: 

       Housing Training – 

       •How we want to include people, but other them

       •There’s a connection between access and affordability, too – this is a major point of how we’re talking about our stories too

       •This is made invisible – but it’s pretty common, so it’s really important to fight for

       •The space needs to be accessible – ramps ,elevators, but also being near transportation routes. 

       •Since it was a media training – training folks about how to prep people to talk with the media. 

       Planning and logistics –



       •Lines of sight



       •Public transport

       •Nearby – in the building?



       •Multiple ways

       •Handouts (large print)

       •Whose voice?


       •Survey attendees beforehand


       •Learning styles

       •How to tell your story

       •Strategies for prepping media, getting them on our team

Scenario 2:

The city has announced its plans to close a public school in a low-income neighborhood and bring in a large for-profit charter school chain to run it.  You are working with parents, teachers, and students on a march to the school and a rally to protest this change.  Discuss the issues that the rally might focus on, how you’ll identify those issues, and plans for the event.

(Note: Many charter schools offer little or no special education.)

       Issues – 


•Lottery to get in

•Access (issues relating to poverty)

•Pushed out of system “Better served somewhere else”

•Parents with kids with disabilities face the most to lose possibly

•Keeping community in tact

•Interdependence (public) vs. Independence (charter)

How to identify issues –

•Parent/teacher/student networks

       March –

•Alternate/shorter route or feeder march

•Including folks in planning process

•Mechanism for accepting accessibility requests

•Good marshalls to control speed

•Sign-making party

•Accessible chants and on-route communication

•Technology – sharing messages for folks who can’t be there

•Have event at the destination

•Be clear where program is taking place and accessibility

Charter Schools – March

Public school closure 

Charter schools – lottery to get in, access and poverty

Kids being pushed out of the system

Parents of kids w/ disabilities face the most they’re required to lose – communities and safetynets 

Keeping communities in tact

Budget issues

Current teacher/student networks


       •Intersectionality – relationship btw different groups who would be involved

       •Make it accessible for younger folks – accessibility is a broad term

       •Having a mechanism for accepting accessibility requests

       •Feeder march, good marshalls, sign making party, accessible chants

       •Some sort of on route communication 

       •Technology to share messages

       •Have an event at the destination also, so that folks who couldn’t participate in the march could join

       •Having clear routes in advance

       •Something that is relatively flat

Scenario 3:

A suburban jurisdiction of DC, citing budgetary pressures, is planning to cut bus service and increase the cost of paratransit.  One member of the Council, speaking to a colleague when he thought that a microphone was off, said “People should get off their asses and walk more anyway.” You’re in a transit justice organization planning a direct action at the next Council meeting to oppose these cuts.  Discuss the messages that the action might highlight, how you will decide on the messages, and plans for the action.

(Note: A 2003 Department of Transportation report estimated that 530,000 people with disabilities don’t leave their homes because they lack access to transportation access.)

Transit Justice – 

       •Working in coordination with other groups that will be impacted – gentrification, bus unions, workers involved, increase understandings of collective needs together. 

       •Messages would be framed by those people and wanted to focus on those people

       •Target is the council meeting

       •Hopefully take up all of the speaking spots at the meeting so that others can’t speak as easily. 

       •Transit to planning meetings and the action itself was critical 

       •Play off the ablist language – and articulate by the transit is critical 

       •If mtg building wasn’t accessible – make sure they could DIY ramps, making sure that everyone is together – and then all move together. Have a safe space for people before and after the mtg. 

       •Use technology to allow people to be physically present 

Thoughts about affinity groups and arrest plans

       •PwD – not being paterialistic and assuming that people w/ disabilities shouldn’t risk arrest.

       •Making sure medications, special needs, and other considerations are emphasized.

       •If someone is deaf, make sure someone who can interpret w/ them is also there.