National Organization for Women
American Association of People With Disabilities
October 17-19, 2003, Bethesda, MD

Sylvia Caras, PhD

On the plane were three men, dressed in light khaki camouflage, toting packs they squeezed into the overhead storage. I watched, thinking about where they might be going, and why, and was struck by such young lives being put on the line.

I was the only passenger in the shuttle from BWI to the Bethesda Sheraton. The driver, originally from Nigeria, and a minister, was upset about contracts and jobs in Iraq going to Halliburton, and concerned that a President Dean would legalize gay marriages. The ride passed quickly.

I went to an early yoga class oriented toward people with mobility impairments which was gentle and started my day in an energized present way.

About 80 are at the opening plenary, dogs, chairs, canes, ... Handouts available in braille and CD.

First conference AAPD has organized, pleased to have partnered with NOW to make it happen.

Keynote : Marca Bristo, President & CEO, Access Living, Chicago
Political Action and the Future of Civil Rights

Yoshiko Dart on her way to Japan to get the Japanese Disability Act introduced.

Society traps us in oppression. Pwd shift away from medical (I am broken; the system is fine.) to socio-political model. In the 70's most birth control methods for wwd were either unsafe or impossibly difficult. Abortion became the only acceptable method.

Sexual histories of wwd weren’t taken. Marca told the story of her own life, accident, and expanding disability consciousness. She noted genetics counseling for wwd, the Schiavo case, Kevorkian, and asked for NOW’s support in understanding the issues of wwd.

Olga Vives, Education VP, NOW Foundation
Judicial Nominations

Center for Individual Rights, Institute for Justice, Center for Equal Opportunity, Civil Rights Institute, Federalist Society (funds AEI, the most radically conservate)), all five focus on what most of you would consider a deprivation of human rights. Funded by Bradley Foundation (IQ is determined by race), Escape Foundation, Cox Foundations, Olen Foundation. Our democracy is crumbling. Legal landscape is being written by imprinting a conservative judiciary. More and more important decisions are being made in the Circuit and Appellate Courts. We expect some 25 years of conservative decisions by new young conservative judges. Federalism. State Rights. Limit power of national legislation, compliance, Congress. April 25, major march, take this back to the streets.

James Dickson, VP Governmental Affairs, AAPD
Voting Issues

Two forms of power - money and people. There is incredible wealth on the conservative side. How can Congress say "we don’t have the money" when we could fund everything everyone needs. Shift of tax burden to the middle class is part of the dismay with government and relates to the reduction in the number of those who vote. Three out of four children live in a home where the parents do not vote. Our system cannot accurately count votes if the margin is less than 2%. Attack on touch screen machines is to keep the excising broken system in place. Paper is much more easily manipulated and impossible to count accurately. Access stems from voting.

Emerging Leaders Panel, Young Feminists

There were about 150 people at lunch. The themes from the young women that I noted were that they wished we entrenched would move over, that organizing must not be just issue oriented but based on commonalities of experience (for instance oppression), that there’s an absence of leaders, young and old, that there is still considerable poverty and paternalism that suppresses women, that today’s divides are more cultural than feminist or disability defined. There is ongoing dismay about the Bush administration. The Big Lie.

"Violence Against Women in the Mental Health System"
Laurie Ahern, Associate Director, Mental Disability Rights International
Leah I. Harris, Board Member, National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy
Kevin Ann Huckshorn, RN, MSN, CAP, Director of Office of Technical Assistance, National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors
Tina Minkowitz, JD, Board Member, World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry

Human rights advocacy is a way of asserting justice as a higher power than government.

Center for Women and Violence

Integration of co-occurring disorders and substance abuse with mental health is important especially to deal with abuse, trauma.

Parent: force saved my son

Survivor: I was so ill that treatment, commitment saved me. Electro shock is useful today.

Social worker, aside to parent, your view is important, should have been on the panel, their (the panels’) reality was shaped by their experience (this last, dismissively).

There are 60 of us here, on a clear, mild, fall Sunday morning, for the economic Impact plenary:

Martinez: workers with disabilities who receive supplementary assistance must be able to save, for housing deposits, for kids college funds. Current programs penalize, limit entry to low assets. Abilities Fund will be having a web page section that targets women entrepreneurs with disabilities, micro-enterprises.

Labor, Disability, and the Economics of Health Care Work, Karen Thompson, President, SEIU, Local 503, and Homecare Workers of Oregon - assistance in staying at home. Benefits, insurance, pay raises, withholding, contract with the state, all with new money. California is organizing county by county. Stronger Together.

"Women and Hidden Disabilities in the Workplace"
Robin R. Runge, Commission on Domestic Violence, American Bar Association, Washington, DC; Claudia Center,Elizabeth Kristen,Patricia A. Shiu, Legal Aid Society_Employment Law Center, San Francisco

Employment cases are hard to prove and even harder for people with disabilities. In 2000, CA amended FEHA to protect ADA and FEHA provisions that other courts had been eroding. Unpaid leave act important for women, families, provides another option. 7 states/municipalities have increased the employment rights of victims of domestic violence (CA led the way in providing job guaranteed leave to access help/counseling.), anti-discrimination provisions (now in three jurisdictions). Judiciary increasingly hostile to employment claims. Judges are the key. Less stress leads to more wellness.

A drama troupe whose members are mostly pwd gave an excerpt of their full length upcoming performance.

Plenary: Health Care

Aging and Disability, Laura Young, Ph.D., Exec Director of Older Women's League
Breast Implants, Jan Erickson, Director of Public Policy, NOW Foundation, Washington, DC

Center: it’s healthier to work in a difference -friendly environment

Erickson: silicone research is funded by those who have an interest in selling silicone implants

Young: older women are often poor, the health care system fails to meet their needs, we need single-payer universal care

Plenary: Violence Against Women
"Women in War," Purna Shova Chitrakar, Ban Landmines Campaign Nepal
"Accessibility: Through the Door but Stuck in the Hallway," Beverly Frantz, End the Silence Project Coordinator, Institute on Disabilities, Temple University, Philadelphia
"Domestic Violence: Incidence, Prevalence, and Proposed Actions," Pat Reuss, NOW Foundation, Washington DC

Mysek-Falkoff: "Inclusion at every phase."

Andrew J. Imparato, CEO, American Association of People with Disabilities


political organizing and getting out the vote
the future of civil and human rights
emerging leaders
economic development, mentoring, asset development
health care
violence against woman, war

The conference concluded with "Chants Encounters" by Wendy Hilsen-Bernard, Brookfield, Conn, drumming and sound.

I liked this phrasing: "In consideration of those with allergies and respiratory problems, the Women with Disabilities & Allies Forum is a "scent free" event. Participants are asked to use unscented products in lieu of scented toiletries and detergents, and to refrain from wearing perfumes and colognes."

A high school friend lives in the DC area and I see her often when I am here. She found another of our classmates, whom I haven’t seen since then, and we three are to have dinner tonight. I woke up with a blackhead on my chin, jerking me back to high school thoughts, high school concerns.