Alliance Against Ableism Hosts First Event in Lecture Series – Massachusetts Daily Collegian

According to Torres-Gerald, many in the disability community want the ADA to have more oversight, especially when it comes to public transportation.

The Alliance Against Ableism held its first round of disability culture and community talks on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. with Fred Pelka, author of “The ABC-CLIO Companion to the Disability Rights Movement” published in 1997, and Lizette E. Torres-Gerald -Gerald, a disciplined and disabled scientist by training and academic activist.

The Alliance Against Ableism is a collective of graduates, students, faculty and staff of the University of Massachusetts, with its members identifying themselves as a person with a disability or a disability advocate.

This event focused on the history of disability identity, culture and community is the first in a four-part series inspired by a campus climate improvement grant from the Office of the equity and inclusion.

The event was moderated by Kimberly Enderle, a Ph.D. student and instructor in the Residential University Program with the Department of History at the University of Massachusetts. During the event, each presenter started with a visual self-description to help make the event inclusive. An ASL interpreter and live transcription option were also present.

“My name is Kimberly Enderle. I am a white woman presenting, a middle aged cisgender woman. Today I’m wearing a white collar shirt with yellow and blue stripes with the light blue V-neck sweater mostly covering it. I have reddish brown hair and blue eyes, and I wear blue-rimmed glasses, ”Enderle said.

The event began with a presentation by Pelka who gave a historical overview of disability and identity in the 20th century and some of the realities facing people with disabilities in the advent of the modern movement. The panelists’ presentation was followed by comments from Ezekiel Kimball, Associate Professor of Higher Education and Dean of Academic Affairs and College of Education at UMass Amherst. Kimball also hosted the event’s question-and-answer session.

“It was a common practice, fully accepted and completely legal that children with disabilities are denied access to public education. The decision of whether or how to educate a disabled child could be made by school administrators who offered no appeal, ”Pelka said.

“People with disabilities were pretty much invisible in popular media, unless. . . unsuitable murderers. . .the very language used to describe them, the spastic invalids, or in the case of people with intellectual disabilities, the idiots, the morons at heart was pejorative. “

According to Pelka, many leaders of the movement emerged from the 1960s and thereafter first modeled the African-American civil rights movement, the anti-Vietnam war, and feminist movements.

“Many of the leaders of the new movement are not from trade union activism, but more particularly from the black civil rights movement,” Pelka said.

During his presentation, Torres-Gerald gave the history of the disability movement after 1990 and the enactment of the American Disabilities Act. She also noted the shift in the use of the term rights of people with disabilities to justice for people with disabilities and shared statistics that demonstrate discrimination against people with disabilities.

According to Ezekiel Kimball, and a commentator at the event, statistics shared by Kimbell showed how “ableism, the societal preference for people without disabilities, removes the full participation of people with disabilities in the workplace.”

According to Torres-Gerald, many in the disability community want the ADA to have more oversight, especially when it comes to public transportation.

“For example, planes are still not wheelchair accessible… Restaurants are also not required to have menus available in Braille. And people with chronic illnesses related to the disability of a parent like me are often not covered by ADA, ”she said.

“Despite the number of curbs and access ramps, in many places 60% of polling stations are still not accessible. So even though a person with a disability can find and use accessible transportation to get to polling stations, they may not be able to enter the building, ”Torres-Gerald said.

According to Torres-Gerald, the United States has yet to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which is an international human rights treaty designed to protect the rights and dignity of people with disabilities.

“It aims to ensure that the disabled community enjoys full equality before the law. Whether or not the treaty has a lasting positive impact on people with disabilities in the United States, ”Torres-Gerald said.

“The fact that the United States will not ratify the treaty speaks volumes about the status of people with disabilities as human beings and whether they should be allowed to participate fully in civil society.

Torres-Gerald also discussed other issues people with disabilities face with technology, citing difficulties in enlarging text or navigating to description features, video conference chat features, which may be inaccessible to visually impaired people.

“Despite good intentions, capable societal structures prevent important information from reaching some of the most vulnerable or marginalized populations, including the disabled community,” Torres-Gerald said.

“For example, some of you may recall conversations that the original medical masks were not transparent, which made it difficult for members of the deaf and hard of hearing community to read the lips of caregivers. health. The deafblind community has been further harmed by the fact that it needs full contact to communicate, which has been limited due to social distancing measures. “

Konah Brownell can be contacted at [email protected]

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