Intersectionality of Disability and Other Marginalized Identities

Reflecting on a Season of Impact and Looking Ahead: Our Journey at The National Center for Disability, Equity, and Intersectionality

As the year comes to an end, it is a time for reflection at the National Center for Disability, Equity, and Intersectionality. This fall has been a remarkable journey, filled with learning, sharing, and advocating. We’ve had the privilege of connecting with thousands of people across the country, amplifying our messages about the intersectionality of disability and other marginalized identities in healthcare, community settings, and justice systems.

Reaching Diverse Audiences

Intersecationality of Disability - Panel Presentation at AUCD- Leah Smith, Tracy Waller, Tyler Cochran, and Chris Hale-Mason- All with varying types of disabilities both visible and invisible.

Our team has been on the move, participating in influential conferences that have allowed us to engage with key stakeholders.

The HCBS conference planning committee invited our Associate Director, Leah Smith, to share about our Center’s work related to Home and Community Based Services with the nearly 1,500 attendees.

During the American Society of Bioethics and Humanities Conference in Baltimore, Maryland, with 1,200 attendees, the Center’s work on coercive sterilization and disability justice was presented as a flash talk and on the main stage.

In October, I joined a group of invite-only organization leaders in Washington, DC, to discuss the transition of disabled youth to adult healthcare, shining a light on the additional barriers faced by youth of color, LGBTQ youth, and girls, women, and young people who identify as female.

At the Association of University Centers on Disability in Washington, DC, we engaged with over 500 academic leaders and researchers to introduce our Center’s first year and present our work on police brutality experienced by disabled people, especially disabled people of color.

Our presence at the Association of Public Health Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, allowed us to intersect public health perspectives with our core mission, reaching over 12,000 public health professionals.

And finally, just last week, we attended the TASH conference with 2,000 attendees in Baltimore, Maryland, to present our work and network with professionals about the experiences, strengths, and needs of people with significant disabilities with multiple marginalized identities. 

Beyond conferences, we’ve delivered over a dozen guest lectures across various institutions, sharing our insights and broadening our understanding of diverse strengths, needs, and experiences within the disabled community through these invaluable interactions.

Advocacy Through Action

Intersectionality of Disability - Three disabled white women smiling at the camera, Kara Ayers, Leah Smith, and Katie Johnson

This year, our advocacy efforts were significant. We’ve actively responded to multiple calls for comments on crucial policies and decisions impacting disabled individuals. Our inclusive approach ensures the voices of disabled people are heard and integrated, staying true to our commitment as a center led by and for disabled individuals. Aligned with our commitment to inclusion, we’ve developed plain language summaries of the comments we submit. This ensures that more people can understand our work and join us in our advocacy. Most recently, we’ve shared plain language summaries for our comments on proposed 504 regulations and on proposed changes to the census. What other plain language resources would you like to see? Leave us a comment to let us know.

In 2024, we anticipate additional responses to calls for comments, as it is a highly effective form of advocacy. Our comments facilitate the representation of underrepresented perspectives. Our Center frequently amplifies these stories and experiences beyond just the comment itself. Through commenting, we can have a direct impact on policy while educating policymakers about the issues that matter most. With our comments, we’re creating a public record and along the way, empowering more people to engage in the advocacy processes. Making these processes as accessible and inclusive as possible is part of the work we do.

Energized for the Journey Ahead

Intersectionality of Disability- Blue background white text with quotes that reads: As we approach the new year, our resolve to champion equity only grows stronger

As we approach the new year, our resolve to champion equity only grows stronger. We’re excited to build on the momentum from the connections and knowledge gained this fall.

We invite you to join us in creating a more inclusive and just world – where disability, equity, and intersectionality are lived realities. Our work goes on, and we’re ready for the challenges and triumphs the new year will bring. 

Black background with yellow text that reads: Lawyers, Mental Health, and the Character and Fitness Investigation The National Center for Disability, Equity, and Intersectionality. ThinkEquitable.com

Lawyers, Mental Health, and the Character and Fitness Investigation

by Jamie Polinsky

Every October students across the United States wait with bated breath for their bar exam results to be posted. After studying for the LSAT, three years of law school, and even more time spent for the bar exam, everyone wants to finally see their hard work pay off and start a legal career. Yet, there are law school graduates who, even after passing the bar exam, cannot be sworn in as attorneys because they checked “yes” on a question on the Character and Fitness portion of the application and then were determined to be “unfit to practice law.[1]

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Blog Post. Accessibility: The Questions I'm Learning to Ask. Teal background with white text. The National Center for Disability, Equity, and Intersectionality logo

Accessibility: The Questions I’m Learning to Ask

By Tracy Waller, Esq., MPH

On July 26, 2023, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) turns 33. The ADA was intended to prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities in areas including employment, transportation, housing, and public accommodations. While the ADA and other discrimination laws exist to protect people with disabilities (PWD) from discrimination, the reality is that PWD must grapple with the aftereffects of loopholes within the laws daily. Often from a shortage of governmental financial resources available or allocation, PWD still face a lack of accommodations regularly.

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