Organizer's Forum

Celebrating ADA 25: July 21, 2015

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Organizer’s Forum: Tuesday, July 21st. Topic: Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act

TUESDAY, July 21st, 1-2 pm Eastern time, 12-1 Central time, 11-12 Mountain time, 10-11 am Pacific time

  • Call in number: 1-860-970-0300
  • Code: 193134#

Hear from respected presenters about ADA 25th anniversary celebrations around the country. They’ll talk about what they’re doing, how they’re educating and engaging the community, and how you can get involved. We’ll also consider how to frame the work that is yet to be done, and we’ll explore how ADA celebrations connect the mainstream disability rights community with various other communities. Please join us!


  • Maria Town, White House Office of Public Engagement, to talk about activities led by the White House
  • Dolores Tejada, Community Resources for Independent Living, to talk about northern California’s Disability Unity Parade and Festival
  • Risa Jaz Rifkind, ADA 25 Chicago, to talk about Chicago’s Disability Pride Parade and other events
  • Mark Johnson, Shepherd Center, to talk about the national ADA Legacy Project
  • Susan Fitzmaurice, Disability Savvy, to talk about Detroit’s ADA event and how it fits into the national scene

To get an idea of who joins our calls, if you are interested in joining on Tuesday, please fill out this quick form!

CART: The call will have real-time captioning (CART)! The website where you will be able to view the captioning is Username: forum. Password: forum. Thank you to the National Disability Leadership Alliance for sponsoring the captioning of this call.

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The Organizing Workgroup of the National Disability Leadership Alliance hosts these calls the third Tuesday of every month as a resource for disability organizers, in an effort toward building the organizing capacity of the disability community across the country. They generally follow the format of a Welcome followed by 2-3 experts in a given area speaking for a few minutes on their experiences, advice and challenges. The calls include a 20-30 minute question and answer period.

To ask questions via CART: Sign-in to the Chat function on the right side of the transcript and type your question. One of the call facilitators will read out any questions posted there.

Because we want to maximize the generously donated CART services, we will begin the call promptly at 1pm and end the call promptly at 2pm (eastern time). A few other reminders about call etiquette:

  • Say your name before each time you speak
  • Speak one at a time
  • Speak slowly and as clearly as possible

So you can mark your calendars now, Organizer’s Forums are held on the 3rd Tuesday of every month. If you have suggestions for call topics or presenters for upcoming topics, please email them to or

Looking forward to talking with you all!

Jessica Lehman and Diane Coleman
Co-Chairs, National Organizing Workgroup

Date 07/21/15

Event:  Organizers’ Forum





>> The Captionist:  Good afternoon.  I am on the audio line and standing by.

>> Jessica:  Hi, this is Jessica Lehman.

>> Risa:  Hi, Jessica.  Lisa is on the phone.

>> Jessica:  I’m sorry?

>> Risa:  Lisa from ADA 25 Chicago.

>> Jessica:  Oh.  Hi, Lisa.  I’m glad you’re here.

>> Risa:  Me, too.  Thanks for having me.

>> Jessica:  And for the captioner, it’s Risa with an R.

>> The Captionist:  Thank you.

>> Jessica:  We’ll just give people a few minutes to get on.

>> Jessica:  Sure.  Because there are so few people, I wonder if something is wrong.

>> Shelby:  Shelby Butler.

>> Jessica:  Hi, Shelby.  Welcome.

>> Mark:  Mark Johnson.

>> Jessica:  Is that mark?

>> Mark:  Yes, this is Mark.

>> Jessica:  Oh, good.

>> Hello?

>> Jessica:  Yes, we’re here.

>> Hello.

>> Jessica:  Who just joined us?

>> Lindsey:  My name is Lindsey.  I work at an independent living center in New York.

>> Jessica:  Wonderful.  Thanks for joining us.

>> Lindsey:  Thank you.

>> Colleen:  Colleen Starkloff.

>> Jessica:  Welcome, Colleen.  For those of you who are on, we’re just giving people a few more minutes to join.

>> [inaudible]

>> Jessica:  What was that?  And we don’t have Maria or Delores yet, do we?

>> The Captionist:  If you could ask everyone to put you on their mute button while they’re not talking, that would be great.

>> Colleen:  Is this an open line or muted line?

>> Jessica:  This is an open line right now.

>> Colleen:  Oh, but you’re going to mute it?

>> Jessica:  Yeah.  We’ll mute it when our speaker starts.

>> Colleen:  I’m driving and I’m having A little trouble hearing you.  I’ll stay on the call if I can hear.  But I didn’t know if I was having trouble hearing it.  I’m saying I don’t know if I’m having trouble because the line is open or not.  But it may just be the fact that I’m traveling.  I’m in a car.

>> Jessica:  Okay.  So we’re still waiting on a couple of our presenters.  I’m going to give them another men or two and then we’ll get started.

>> Julie:  Julie Espinoza.

>> Jessica:  Hi, welcome.

>> [inaudible] Bueno, Texas.

>> Jessica:  Who is this?  I’m sorry?

>> Mark:  It was just mark Johnson doing a shout out.

>> Jessica:  Oh, Hi.

>> Dave:  Dave Marcus, happy to be heading to DC to celebrate 25 years of the ADA.

>> I’ll see you tomorrow, buddy.

>> I’ll see you there as well.

>> Mark Hermosa, Santa Fe.

>> Jessica:  Why don’t we go ahead and get started, and hopefully the speakers we’re missing will be able to join us soon.  So first, welcome, everyone.  And my name is Jessica Lehman.  I work in San Francisco at a group called senior and disability action, and I co chair the Organizers Forum, along with Diane Coleman from Not Dead Yet, who unfortunately cannot be on the call with us today.  The organizers’ forum, who folks who don’t know, is a monthly call designed to expand and support community organizing and disability movements and communities.  It’s a project of the National Disability Leadership Alliance, which is a national coalition across disability organizations.  So we do a different topic each month.  We’re always looking for ideas.  In fact, we don’t have an August call yet.  If you have ideas, let me know, and in addition to the calls, because we recognize that with a lot of the topics we do really    an hour is not enough to fully cover it, and so we do have a listserv.  It’s organizersforum@Yahoo  So if you’re not yet a member of that, just go to Yahoo and search for Organizers Forum, all one word, and click join.  It’s really easy.  We’re also on Facebook, just like it sounds.  Organizers Forum.  That’s two words, and we really invite folks during this call if you’re at a computer or afterwards, put, you know, something that stood out to you on that listserv or on Facebook so that people who weren’t able to join us today can hear some of those highlights and take part in that conversation.  NDLA also has a website.  It’s disability, and there’s a page on there dedicated to the Organizers Forum.  And thanks to PDR in Rochester, we have recordings of the call that go on that website.  Thanks to our captioning, we will have a transcript of the call and that will be on the website as well.

As I mentioned, the call is captioned.  If you’d like, you can log on there and type questions and I’ll read those out on the call.  Please remember to speak slowly and clearly and say your name before you speak.  Please don’t put us on hold, because we’ve had issues withhold music.  If you need to step away, just hang up and you can always call right back.  And if you’re not speaking, you can hit star six and mute your phone and just star six again to unmute it.  When our speakers start, we’ll mute everybody to make it easier to hear.

I’m trying to see if I missed anything.  I think we covered it.  So moving into today’s topic, we are really excited to be talking about the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  I know there’s a ton of stuff going on around the country, and so we have some speakers today who are going to highlight some of the things happening in different places, different events.  So we’ll has been a little bit about what’s happening around the country, how people are educating and engaging the disability community, how you might be able to get involved, and what you can learn from your own areas, and then we’ll also consider how are we framing the work that is yet to be done?  Really recognizing the victory of the ADA, but how do we talk about what’s next, as well as looking at how ADA celebrations are bringing in the mainstream disability rights communities with other parts of our community or with other communities.  So that’s one of the things we wanted to explore a little on the call.

We have five incredible speakers today.  We have Maria Town, with the White House Office of public engagement.  And she’ll be able to stalk a little bit about activities led by the White House, including the really exciting event yesterday that I think a lot of us saw on Facebook.  And Maria, are you on yet?  Okay.  Hopefully Maria will be joining us very soon.  Delores Tejada, who is with community resources for independent living, which is the Independent Living Center in Hayward, California, in the bay area she’ll be talking about the unity parade and festival this September.  We have Risa Jaz Rifkind and she’ll talk about the Disability Pride Parade in Chicago.  Then we have Mark Johnson    and these aren’t in speaking order.  We have Mark Johnson with the Shepherd center in Atlanta, Georgia, and he’ll be talking about the national ADA legacy project.  And then one of the parts of that is in Detroit, and Suzanne Fitzmaurice with Disability Savvy will be talking about the events in Detroit and how that fits into the national scene.

Before we do that, let’s go ahead and do introductions quickly, because I think we have a manageable number of people.  So let’s start where ever where    start with the West Coast.  Go ahead and share your name, city, and organization if you are part of one.

>> [inaudible] Silicon Valley, Independent Living Center in San Jose.

>> Can people mute their individual lines?

>> Jessica:  Yeah, somebody was requesting if you can mute your own line if you hear static.  Just star six and mute it.  How about the broader one?  Colorado?  Utah?  The southwest?  Northwest?

>> Victor:  Victor Pedata and I’m at Berkley, California, at the University of California Berkley.

>> Jessica:  Welcome.  Wow, this whole side of the country needs some better representation.  How about moving to the Midwest?

>> Colleen:  This is Colleen Starkloff with the Starkloff Disability Institute in St. Louis, Missouri.

>> Jessica:  Okay.

>> Shelby:  Shelby Butler, Southwest Center for Independent Living in Springfield, Missouri.  Hey, Colleen.

>> Colleen:  Hey, Shelby.

>> Jessica:  All right.  How about Texas and the south?

>> Julie:  Julie Espinoza with regional Plano Resource Center on Independent Living and also with Disability Activism of ADAPT.

>> Jessica:  Great.  No southerners on the call?

>> Linda:  This is Linda Pogue from Disability Link in Atlanta.

>> Jessica:  What was your name?

>> Linda:  Linda Pogue, Disability Link in Atlanta.

>> Jessica:  Great.  How about moving up to Maryland and Virginia and Washington, D.C.?  All right.  How about up the entire northeast?

>> Hi.  I’m Lindsey Wicker and I work at the Independent Living Center of the Hudson valley in Troy, New York.

>> Jessica:  Okay.

>> Keith:  This is Keith Gurgy.  I am a close colleague of People at Independent Living.  I work at the Resource Center for Accessible Living in Kingston, New York.

>> Jessica:  Thanks.

>> I work in the Resource Center for Independent Living in Herkemer, New York.

>> Jessica:  Great.  All right.  Is there anybody on the call who hasn’t introduced themselves yet?

>> Julie:  This is Julie Espinoza, and I’m sorry, I don’t know if I was mute when I introduced myself or not.

>> Jessica:  That was your name again?

>> Julie:  Julie Espinoza.  And we did get you.  I appreciate you checking in.  That’s great.  Okay.  So we are going to turn it over to our speakers.  We will start with Risa from Chicago, and before you start, Risa, I’m going to go ahead and mute everyone and so then I’ll ask our speakers to unmute yourself by hitting star six afterwards and then make sure we can hear you before you start.  So one second.  Let me mute everybody.

Okay.  Risa, if you hit star six, hopefully we’ll be able to hear you.

>> Risa:  Hi.  This is Risa.  Can you hear me?

>> Jessica:  Yes, we can.  Thank you.

>> Risa:  Great.  Thank you, Jessica, for the introduction and letting me be here.  I’ll try and keep this brief, as I know there’s a hefty lineup of people after me.  And please bear with me.  I’m fighting off a cold, so my nose is A little stuffy and my voice is A little raspy, but I’m happy to be here.  So I’d like to tell you a little bit about ADA 25 Chicago for which I’m a program coordinator.  ADA 25 Chicago is funded by an initiative of the Chicago community trust, and what we’re doing is by focusing on this anniversary year, we’re not only commemorating the anniversary, but also using it as a leverage to say, you know, the last 25 years, great progress has been made, but there’s so much more to do.  And looking at the next 25 years and how we can do that.  So we are a using it, you know, as an opportunity, each though ADA 25 Chicago will only be around for the rest of the year.

We’re focusing on four major areas:  Employment, education, community inclusion, and technology.  And the way that we’re doing that is we have partners, program partners.  And our program partners right now are numbered to be over 160 partner programs in Chicago.  And we are focusing on Chicago and the Chicago area, you know, because there are so many other nationwide efforts.  We are in Chicago only.

And for community inclusion, one of the things that we’re doing is the 25 to 25 Cultural Aspect Project, and what that is is partnering with the Chicago Cultural Accessibilities Consortium.  We started off by looking for 25 cultural things in and around Chicago to commit to becoming more accessible to people with disabilities with a plan and then also additions or new additions or further expansion of the flexible services that they offer, whether it be ASL or, you know, something new and different with assistive listening devices.  It’s really open ended.

And what is exciting about that project is that we got over 25 and we have 31 cultural institutions who made that commitment.  In terms of education and employment, education, a task force for education focusing on the public.  For employment, we are starting the leadership institute to take place in December, looking for people with disabilities who have had a certain amount of leadership experience and would like to take to the next level and learn about how to become part of [inaudible] and higher provisions like that.

There are a ton of events that some of our program partners are doing next week, and just as I mentioned, Disability Pride Parade.  The Disability Pride Parade was the 12th annual one, and that happened this past Saturday.  And it had over 50 groups marching in the parade and over 40 sponsors.  It was the highest attendance yet.  And the grand Marshal was Senator Tom Harkin, and he also made remarks at the post parade rally.  And this week we also have Illinois State Department of human services is having today an events which I have to go to right after I hang up with you, but they’re having their celebratory he vent, the Chicago bar foundation having an events within the next week, and then also, the disability rights museum on wheels is currently, today and tomorrow, in Chicago making a Chicago stop.  So lots of really, really exciting things.  And I invite you all to check our website out:  ADA 25  We are still taking partners, so if you know or you are a local company or organization who would like to forward and be a partner, I welcome that, and I’m happy to work with you to do that.  I think that’s just about five or six minutes, so I’ll stop talking now.  But I think I’m going to have to hang up to go to that event, and I mentioned I’ll try and get back e business about 15, 20 minutes for questions, or if I don’t manage to get back on, please don’t hesitate to contact me.  I know that Jessica will be distributing our contact information.  So I look forward to hearing from you, and if you have questions about any of the thing I mentioned, please let me know.  And thank you so much for having me.

>> Jessica:  Risa, thank you so much.  That was really helpful to hear what’s going e business Chicago.  We are having trouble reaching a couple of our speakers, so we may have A little more time on this call than we anticipated.  So if there was anything else you wanted to add or if anyone wants to    I’m going to change our format A little bit today.  If anyone wants to go ahead and ask a question of Risa while she’s here, Risa, are you able to stay on for another minute or two?

>> Risa:  Yes, sure, absolutely.

>> Jessica:  Great.  So if anyone has any questions or comments for Risa, please go ahead and hit star six to unmute yourself and you can share that.

>> Mark:  This is just mark Johnson.  Can you hear me?

>> Jessica:  Yeah.  Do you have a question for Risa?

>> Mark:  I just wanted to thank you all for your support of the legacy ADA tour stop in Chicago during the pride parade.  We really appreciate that.

>> Risa:  Yes, absolutely.  And my apology for not mentioning that.  During parade, presentations, we were really happy to have the bus in Chicago on Saturday.  And also last Friday as well at the Providence center of independent living in forest park.  So thank you, Mark, for helping with that.

>> Mark:  It was great.  You guys had a puppet?

>> Risa:  Yes.

>> Mark:  And that’s just some awesome pictures on line of the pride parade.

>> Risa:  Yes.  I think you guys posted some.  There are some on other things.  Every other place now, we have all social media platforms, Facebook and Twitter.  So please check those out.  For pictures and also updates about any upcoming programs.  And new programs with being added every day.  So it’s constantly changing for with at.

>> Mark:  Can I do one other shout out for you?

>> Risa:  Please do.

>> Mark:  For people who want to see what kind of mainstream news coverage ADA or ADA 25 related activities you’re getting, the ADA 25 Chicago website actually has an archive 245 you can actually go to their website and hit, you know, the news stuff and then you can hit the archive and you can actually read the stories about ADA that have been coming out for months.

>> Risa:  Yes.  Thank you, Mark.

>> Jessica:  And we will try to get some of these things out on the list Kevin and Facebook after the call.  If you’re able to just send me    well, you gave us the website.  If there’s any specific links to news articles or photos, do you want me to send those my way?

>> Risa:  Will do.  Thank you.

>> Suzanne Fitzmaurice is on the phone.

>> Jessica:  Thank you for getting on and staying an for a moment, Risa.

>> Risa:  Thank you for having me.  Bye.

>> Jessica:  Thank you.  Have Delores or Maria been able to join us?  Okay.  Well, Susan, now that you’re here, you are up.  I introduced you briefly earlier, but if you want to add on any introductory stops, feel free.

>> Susan:  Well, my name is Susan Fitzmaurice and I am a lifelong disability advocate.  I began as a disability advocate in childhood when I was not disabled, and then as I acquired disabilities as I got older and became the parent of a child with disabilities, my activism became even stronger.  And part of what I feel my strength is the fact that I have multiple disabilities.  My son does.  And so I come from not having a specific disability that is of interest to me.  All of them are.  And the ADA event that I am hosting is a reflection of that, and I think it’s part of the power of it is that the voices that are being heard of which there have been over a thousand today are voices from all kind of areas of life.  We had a Supreme Court justice just speak and we’ve had children with disabilities speak and everybody, I believe s walking away from here feeling empower and had that they have a purpose in relationship what they learned today.  They’re already planning already next year.  People are so excited that there’s a role for them, and I really think that’s been the success of this event is from the very, very beginning it has not been led by an organization or individual.  It has been team led.  And one of the first questions I got asked a lot the first meetings I had was what’s your vision for the event?  I kept saying over and over and over again, my vision is that it becomes our vision.  And that everyone’s voice is heard.  And I think we did a good job of that.  I don’t think anybody has been left with I didn’t get a part in the planning.  I didn’t get my way.  But I think everybody got something where they feel they can own the event and they feel like they can talk to people about it, because they feel it’s their event.  And the turnout has been nothing short of amazing.  And people will come up to me and say, this person told me about it and that person told me about it.  So a lot of it has been groundswell support.  It’s been extremely, extremely gratifying to me to see everybody here.  I guess probably one of the biggest suggestions I can give in terms of this is that I wrote copious notes during and after each meeting so that if somebody was not at the meeting, we were at the meeting.  We could read those notes they knew what we discussed.  They knew how we came to a conclusion and they knew who was for it, who was against it, and what their reasons were.  And so everybody got included in the process and people were invited to make e mail comments on the basis of what the minutes were.  Now, did you come up with an idea based on the minutes?  Do you want to come to the next meeting?  People were constantly being invited to become a part of it, and then when they would come, they were given a role.  Some roles are tiny.  Little teeny tiny things, but little teeny tiny things help.  And some people walked in at the tail end and took on huge roles.  So I think creating something that is of the communities I think it works, you know?  It just works.  I don’t know if that inspires any questions that I could take now.  The event is going on now, so I actually have to get back to it fairly soon.

>> Jessica:  This is Jessica.  Thank you for coming in the middle of anyone.  We do have three other speakers who are now with us thankfully.  Because Susan has to leave, we will take a couple questions for her if there are any.  If anyone has a question, star six to unmute yourself.

>> Hey, Susan?

>> Susan:  Yes.

>> Mark:  This is Mark.  Could you tell A little bit about Kenny and the shirts, and particularly the Justin Dart shirt?

>> Susan:  Sure.  I’d love to.  So Ted I met Justin Dart when he was very young, and Justin made a tremendous impact on Teddy.  I can’t really tell you what it was about Justin that made the impact, but it did.  And so he started a T shirt business with Dan Wilkins    not with Dan Wilkins.  He helped Dan Wilkins out and Dan, in turn, helped Teddy out to start a T shirt business.  And we sold Dan Wilkins T shirts for a long time and said, Teddy, it’s time for you to design a shirt.  What do you want?  What kind of shirt do you want?  Mind you, my son at that time was    today is his 32nd birthday.  26 years old, and I had no idea what he was going to come up with.  None whatsoever.  And he said, Justin Dart is my hero and I want a Justin Dart shirt.  And I said, okay.  We’ll do that.  And then I got in touch with Tom Owen who allowed us to use a photograph.  I got in touched with Dart and asked what quote she would want on it, and they all talked to Teddy and they came up with a design.  So we have a photographic image of Justin that was done by Tom that we superimposed sort of a cram line over.  And it’s our ADA shirt and it’s very popular.  It’s in Texas orange and Teddy can tell everybody about the ADA and everybody about Justin Dart, which is really what his business is about.  His business isn’t really about making money.  It’s really about being an advocate.  There are so many people who know about Justin Dart and know about the ADA, and then they’re really amazed.  Here we have a young adult with a very significant disability who can talk to Congress people about the ADA and Justin Dart and he knows Justin Dart and he’s proud of Justin Dart and he says Justin is my hero over and over and over again.  So it’s more than T shirts.  It’s more about    it’s demonstrating that Teddy has a voice.  Teddy has an intelligent voice and that people you assume can’t do much of anything can do a tremendous amount.  They just do it, you know, in a different way.  And his business is really a tremendous tool of advocacy.  And we sell tons of those shirts today, in addition to the ADA shirts.

>> Maria:  Susan, this is Maria Town calling from the White House.  We’ve met a few times.  I want to say one of my favorite T shirts is the label jars not people, to get people around self determination and basically allowing for people’s own identity development.  Personally, I own one of Teddy’s pins, the statue of liberty as a wheelchair adviser.

>> Susan:  One he designed himself.

>> Maria:  I think that Teddy’s T’s are just a really great way to begin to cultivate advocacy, because any shirt or pin that strikes your interest, you can just    you can begin to been how you can become an organizer, become an advocate if you’re not already connected to an existing organization or infrastructure.  And so I actually think that a lot of the merchandise is the way into the movement, in addition to a way to bring awareness and visibility more broadly.

>> Susan:  We had an interesting thing happen today.  A woman picked up a button that Teddy has that says JRCUS authorized child torture.  And this woman was really upset at this button.  And she says, U.S. doesn’t torture people.  And Teddy said, that school is bad.  He says    and he started to talk about the school and what they do.  A lot of it is he is spouting things he’s heard me say and put his spin on it.  He interprets what I say sometimes differently from what I intended to, but then it was like right out of my mouth.  He says, your tax dollars pay for the school, though you’re torturing children, too.  And this perch says, I’m going to have to look this up on the internet, I don’t believe this.  I was like, okay.  Look it up.  You’ll find out everything he just said is true.

>> Jessica:  Any final questions for Susan?  Remember, if we don’t hear you, hit star six to unmute yourself.

>> Susan:  I guess I could end, then, that Teddy has a website.  That’s one way to get through to me.  I also have a website myself that’s called disability, all one word.  And I do all kind of advocacy and Teddy and I both travel all over the place.  If it’s too far, we need help getting there financially.  If it’s not too far, we’ll just come and sell T shirts and buttons and Teddy will advocate his heart out.

>> Could you maybe expound A little bit upon what JRC is and does?

>> Susan:  Sure.  Well, JRC is the Judge Rotenberg Center in Canton, Massachusetts.  And it is a school primarily for children and young adults with autism and also includes people are other kind of behavioral disorders.  And they’re primarily kids that were in school systems and kicked out and the school systems basically said we can’t do anything with this kid.  Their behavior is totally out of control.  And so then they will go to the Judge Rotenberg center, which is a residential school.  It’s paid for because it’s residential and the treatment center is actually paid for by tax dollars or state government dollars, because the school system is supposed to provide a free and appropriate education.  So this becomes the free and appropriate education the students get.  And the problem with the school, they have this extraordinarily narrow definition after appropriate behavior.  And kids have backpacks on them that include the transmitter to give them taser whatever you call them, the taser snaps our leg or arm or whatever you have.  If you do things like you won’t sit down in your seat u won’t take your hat off, you won’t fake your jacket off, you look at the teacher the wrong way.  Anything you can imagine, anything narrowly defined as a behavior and you will get that.  And there are children who have died being zapped because they were being zapped inappropriately and for very long periods of time.  There is definite documentation of children being zapped 17 times in a row specifically.  There are children who have grown up to become traumatized adults and talk about how that experience may have calmed them down so that they behaved, but it was at the cost of being tortured.

>> Jessica:  Thank you for sharing that, Susan.  Important for everyone to know about.  We really appreciate    I’m sorry.  We’re going to have to move on.

>> [inaudible] a lot of people of core from New York.

>> Susan:  Yes, it is a lot of people of color from New York.  New York has the largest population in the school.  But I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this.  And I’m going to join up so I can be on the next call and be a listener.

>> Jessica:  Wonderful.  Thank you again, Susan.  I really appreciate your time.

>> Susan:  Thank you.

>> Jessica:  Bye bye.  Thank you again.  Next we’re going to go Delores Tejada, who is with community resources for independent living in California.  And she’ll be talking about the upcoming disability unity parade and festival.  So go ahead, Delores.

>> Delores:  Hello, everyone.  Thank you, Jessica, for the introduction.  Can you hear me?

>> Jessica:  We can.

>> Delores:  Awesome.  Okay.  So I was on earlier and wasn’t successful in unmuting myself.  So I do want to first promote the disability unity website.  So everything that I talk about today is also available on the website and so the disability festival really came out of Silicon Valley Independent Living Center, who has been hosting the West Coast unity pride parade for a few years, and that parade was started by Sara Tejana, who played a big role in starting the Chicago parade.  We’re following in the footsteps of Chicago in that regard, and I just want to acknowledge that history.  So Independent Living Center recognized with this year being the 25th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act that it was really, really important to do something even larger, and so they reached out to independent living centers throughout the bay area, including the center that I am a part of, which is community resources for independent living, and a group of us who are in the bay area decided that they did want to help plan and be a part of something large to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act.  And he decided to, with that larger vision, we decided to name it something even bigger.  So disability unity festival was born out of that with the intention of making it larger, making it more inclusive, and really just making an effort to have a broader, larger festival and parade.

so another thing that’s really excite is gone one of the collaborative parkers is California foundations for independent living centers, and this works really well for them, because not only did they wanted to participate in planning the disability unity festival, but they also wanted to put together a conference the day before the festival that would conclude the morning of the festival that could really be a disability center conference for people to still share, learn new things, find out more information about things that were important and topics that were important to us as people with disabilities in this community.  So with that in mind, a date was sets and that is September 26th.  There was a conference.  And September 25th for

>> Jessica:  Can I just remind everyone to please mute yourself?  I’m hearing some background noise.  Thank you.

>> Delores:  Okay.  Can everyone hear me, despite the noise?  I hope it’s okay.  Okay.

>> Jessica:  Delores?  It is okay now.  Sore.  I was going to say I can try muting everyone and have on you mute, but I think it’s okay for now.

>> Delores:  Okay.  Thanks, Jessica.  And September 25th will be the day of the disability organizing network conference.  I think I’m good.  Jessica, are you there?  Can you hear me?

>> Jessica:  I’m sorry about that.  Let me try muting everyone again.  If there’s anyone who has spoken recently, you probably unmuted yourself.  If you can hit star six?  Go ahead and we’ll know it’s taken care of.  Let me try to unmute everyone and then I’ll have you unmute, Delores.  Is that okay?

>> Delores:  Yes.

>> Jessica:  Sorry.  One second.  So know everyone should be muted, so if you hit star six, hopefully we’ll hear you.

>> Delores:  I am here.  Thank you.  I did want to Faulk a little bit more about the conference on the 25th, and that is this disability organizing network hosted ADA 25 conference.  And we just finished with a call for proposals, because we’re selecting and creating the program for the final    for the 25th and the morning of the 26th.  So that is really, really exciting, because I had the opportunity to look at the proposals that came in, and there’s such a wide variety of topics and skill levels and deaf people are sharing.  We have people who are professional disability advocates, but also we have had community members and ally organizations also bring and propose their workshop.  So it’s going to be really, really exciting.  So the parade and festival happens on Saturday, September 26th.  It is really going to be a great event.  It’s going start in San Francisco.  I’m really happy to be working with the City of San Francisco to have it there.  And we’ll start with a parade in the morning and a festival for the afternoon.  So I’m really, really excited because the innocent living centers that are working on this are really want to go do it with a bang and we’re working collaboratively amongst ourselves to make this an event to remember.  And it is the first time that a lot of us are doing something this big.  So I’m sure next year will be even better.  So a way that folks can get involved is by sponsoring the event.  There are sponsorship levels and information available at the disability unity website.  And also, another way that people can get involved is that the disability organizing network does have a Steering Committee for the conference, and people can get involved with the plan process for the conference as well.

So I think that’s pretty much summing up everything that I wanted to talk about.  And Jessica, go ahead and take it away.

>> Jessica:  Thank you so much, Delores.  That was really great to hear about those big events.  I’m debating.  We’ve been doing questions because people had to leave.  Delores, if you’re okay with staying until the end of the hour, we’ll go ahead to the other speaker.  Does that work?

>> Delores:  Yes, it does.

>> Jessica:  So next we’re delighted to have Maria Town from the White House.  Maria, be sure to hit star six so we can hear you.

>> Maria:  Hi, everyone.  Thank you all for letting me join this conversation today, and thank you all for the work that you guys are doing every day in your communities and across the country to advance disability rights.  Yesterday the White House posted a reception honoring the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the president delivered some remarks and the vice president also attended.  I want to say that if you get a chance to listen to the president’s remarks, you’ll hear that he commented on the unfinished business of the ADA and how we need to make sure that we’re getting people with disabilities employed and living in their communities and that we’re not only, you know, defending and advantaging disability rights here in the you had, but also averaged the world, because disability rights are Civil Rights and they’re human rights.

Two things that happened yesterday that really excited me that had never happened before was we were able to get Alice Wong, who many of you might be familiar with, to attend the reception.  Now, the nature of Alice’s disability prevents her from traveling, and she lives in San Francisco, California.  And one of the things that I’m very committed to in this role as disability community liaison is really pushing the White House and the administration on what inclusion looks like and what accommodation looks like and so we were able to work with a number of partners to get something called a presence robot, and what it is, it’s got a base with some wheels and there’s a long kind of midsection and basically an iPad screen, and through this robot, Alice was able to come in through her computer and web cam and attend the reception and meet the president.  And this is somebody who is really dedicated to advancing visibility and disability 6789 she runs something called the disability visibility project and capture the stories of people with disabilities.  And as you all know, you know, disability is often written out of history, and so the work that she and others have been doing to capture these stories in collaboration with Story Corps has just been critical.  She usually misses out on these events, because she can’t travel, and I wanted to make sure she was there.

The other thing that happened was the president was introduced by a young woman named Haben Girma, who is actually also based in California.  She is the first deaf and blind person to graduate from Harvard law and she’s currently a lawyer with disability rights advocates and is committed to making digital educational materials accessible to everyone.  Haben invented her own communication system that utilizes a wireless keyboard and a Braille note and basically someone can type into the keyboard and Haben reads what’s being typed on her Braille note and then she either responds verbally or she signs, depending on the communication preferences of the person she’s talking with.  And so the president spoke with Haben via this assistive technology, and it was a great lesson around what is possible when we start to rethink what our systems look like and what accommodations look like.

and I know I’m talking a lot about this reception, but it is significant.  One of the other things we did yesterday was we had a quiet room.  The room that’s usually the China room became the quiet room.  So all of our attendees who might be overwhelmed in a packed room of 500 people with music and all sorts of chatter could go to the China room and get some rest.  We also switched to scent free soaps for people with chemical disabilities and were careful of the flowers we chose so they weren’t overly fray grant.  Also additional staff, pinning back tablecloths so they wouldn’t get caught you in wheelchair wheels or crutch tips.

And for one of the first times, the usher’s office actually removed a lot of the historic furniture in many of the rooms so that the space was more easily navigated by folks with service animals or in power chairs, because we really wanted to make sure that people had a welcoming experience at this reception.  And one of the things that I found in my own experiences within the disability community is that each all of us with all of our expertise and experience still have to push ourselves to really get it right when it comes to kind of radical inclusion and making sure that everyone is welcome in these spaces.  And I was really proud that the White House was so committed to making sure that all of these little things, like having straws at the bar so that people who needed cups could have some or lowering tables so folks in chairs or Little People could reach the food and drinks on my own.  We’re hoping we can institutionalize these practices so every reception was as welcoming as it is one we had yesterday.

The larger events we’re doing is called Champions of Change.  It’s being held on July 27th.  And the Champions of Change program honors local advocates for the work that they’re doing in their communities, and it’s really focused on honoring individuals who may not get as much recognition for their work as people who are really closely associated with something like the disability rights movement.  And the theme of next week’s champions of change is disability advocacy across generations.  Moments like the 25th anniversary are moments where we reflect on where we’ve been and how far we’ve come, but also where we’re going moving forward and how we grow the movement over the next 25 years.  So with this Champions of Change, we will honor a group of long time disability advocates, as well as the young disability advocates.  There are going to be a few administration officials attending, as well as a couple of celebrities, and this Champions of Change will be actually live blogged by a couple of disability bloggers.  And again, for me, that’s a form of access.  There’s a difference between watching something via a livestream and just getting the commentary that’s happening on the stage and not necessarily the commentary of your friend who would be setting next to you in the audience.  And I wanted to get some disability bloggers in the room to live blog it so that folks who could not attend in DC could experience the event in community virtually.

So those are the big things.  And as we actually finish out the month of July and conclude with our celebrations of the ADA, I’m really interested in hearing through all of you as to how we maintain the momentum and the energy in the community and continue to make advances in the next 25 years.

>> Jessica:  Wonderful.  Thank you so much, Maria.  Really great thing ever what’s going on, and especially your perspective on all the behind the scenes things that we may not all know about.  So thank you so much for that.

>> Maria:  Yeah, absolutely.

>> Jessica:  We have one final speaker, Mark Johnson, and we’re about five minutes before the end of the hour, but we can continue, maybe we’ll just go about five minutes over if Maria and Mark and Delores are able to take about five minutes for questions after that.  If you need to get off, we definitely understand, but if you can, we would definitely appreciate it.  So with that, let me turn it over to Mark Johnson to talk about the overall national theme.

>> Mark:  Well, good afternoon, and in some places, good morning.  Let me just say thanks for everybody taking some of their busy day to participate in this call.  I also just want to thank people who have been working on the legacy project for a couple years.  I also just want to take the time, you know, every chance I can gets, especially today, to thank Tom Roland, who sat on the ADA bus for an entire year.  It happens to be his birthday, and so if you go to the ADA legacy Facebook page, you can actually wish him a happy birthday.  He’s actually in Detroit right now, and there is an evening event they’d already planned, so they’re going to embrace his birthday tonight as well.

A lot of you know that the tour started last year in Houston for a lot of logical reasons, that it’s been on the road no over 20,000 miles, over 30 states, and over 100 stops, and it obviously, like I said, it’s in Detroit today.  It’s in Columbus Ohio and then it moves to Philly and there will be Annie vent on the 25th and then there will be the last day where the tour goes from Wilmington, Delaware, to Baltimore to DC.  So the actual museum on wheels, which is a new venue for our community, the ADA bus, the Justin Dart puppet and the new peace and justice display rights post, which is like a poll, will all be at the national museum of American history at 12:30 on Sunday.  We’ll be at the entire festival in DC with the partnership between it is Kennedy Center and the Smithsonian.  So just a lot of good stuff going on that continues to build the momentum.  What I refer to is the convergence of the past, the present, and the future.  I’m also real pleased to hear a couple speakers say next year and next year and next year.  I didn’t hear anybody say they were done.  I only heard people making references to how can we do things better?  How can we be more inclusive?  How can we be more supportive?  And what is a next?

There are a number of things out there that’s what’s next.  We all know that there’s still an institutional bias and a long term services report.  We all know that it’s still legal to pay people with disabilities a sub minimum wage.  We have some real hard work, and I heard the president yesterday pledge that over the next 18 months, and also heard him pledge that after his presidency, he’s willing to work on these issues.  So I think we can get a lot done in the next 18 months.  In fact, I hope this week there will be some announcements from this administration that continue to go on and on and on.  We happen to form right now an international forum to make some announcements between now and the Champions of Change on Monday.  We also have the opportunity, even on Friday night.  I know Saturday night a lot of people have issues with the Special Olympics.  I personally think their message is evolving.  And some of you might know that the kickoff at the World Games is Saturday night and the First Lady will be present.  I happen to think that’s a forum to continue to move our message out.  I know, also, in Berkley that the exhibit for Patient No More, which is an exhibit regarding the 504 Sit ins will go live at the Ed Roberts campus.  I also know that there will be a postal mark this weekend where you’ll be able to get a United States postal mark.  You’ll have access to it.  I’m currently working with Google on potentially a doodle on Sunday, and so a lot a lot of good stuff that people started thinking about years ago and that we built momentum about.  This wasn’t about waking up in January in 2015 and saying, there’s anniversary.  I know there’s been a lot of frustration.  Some of it has been my personal frustration about how late some of these things, how late people have been notified, but it doesn’t matter.  We’re getting stuff done.  It’s very exciting.  I’m excited about the future.  And as a guy who is 64 years old, I’m ready to pull back some.  So I’m very excited about the ADA generation and young folks across disability using all the tools, technology, and social media to move things forward.

I would encourage people on the 28th, about 12:01 after the NDLA/consortium on disabilities gala at the Grand Hyatt on Monday is over at 12:01, we’re back to work, and I hope as many people as possible get out the word about the March to rally in the hills on Tuesday of next week, because I think that’s a true sign of where we need to go.  Nick Lardy has a policy briefing.  We don’t have to sit around and talk about what needs to be done next.  We can look at six by 15 campaign.  Weeklies tone groups like ADAPT, listen to groups like concrete change.  Weeklies tone groups like Not Dead Yet.  Nothing about us without us.  So I’m excited.  I’m really happy to hear some folks acknowledge the history before them and I would encourage you to go to the website, and it’s still all right to order swag and a T shirt.  I hope to see a lot of you in DC with an ADA 25 T shirt.  They’ll continue to go on sale for the rest of the year.  So it’s very, very exciting.  I really appreciate everybody taking their time.  We appreciate everybody’s hard work.  I know we’ve done it with limited funds and no full time staff, because we are who we are and I really appreciate our commitment.  So thank you very much for including me today.

>> Jessica:  Thank you, Mark.  That was an excellent conclusion to our call.  Really fun to hear your thoughts some of the overview of about what’s happening and what’s yet to come.  So I believe our captioner needs to get off, but it doesn’t look like anyone else is on the captioning.  So first, thank you to our captioner for doing this.  And we will definitely send the transcript out and put that on the NDLA website so people can check it out if you missed part of the call or you want to pass it on to others.

>> The Captionist:  Thank you.  Have a good day.

(End of call.)