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Dialogue: Disability Justice in the Time of COVID-19

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The landmark legislation broadened the scope of institutions barred from discriminating against people with disabilities.

WUOT's Claire Heddles and a panel of experts take a look at the significance and shortcomings of the ADA, consider the accessibility of the technology that is being implemented in response to COVID-19, and imagine what an education system that works better for all students could look like. 

Resources for Tennessee families from Molly Anderson
Return to School Planning Guide from STEP TN and The Arc of Tennessee
Information from Family Engagement in Special Education
The East Tennessee Family Engagement in Special Education Facebook group

Book recommendations from Lydia X.Z. Brown
Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha
Exile and Pride: Disability, Queerness, and Liberation by Eli Clare
Brilliant Imperfections: Grappling with Cure by Eli Clare
Resistance and Hope: Essays by Disabled People edited by Alice Wong
Disability Visibility Anthology edited by Alice Wong
All the Weight of Our Dreams: On Living Racialized Autismcoedited by Lydia X.Z Brown, Morénike Giwa Onaiwu and E. Ashkenazy


The video livestream is available below. Captions and transcript are available by opening the video in YouTube.  

Molly Anderson is an East Tennessee specialist in family engagement in special education for The Arc of Tennessee, an organization that advocates for the rights and full participation of all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. In this role, she is currently aiding families in navigating Tennessee's school reopening plans. She is also a speaker and disability advocate who successfully lobbied for a 2017 Tennessee law that helped put sign language in high schools across the state. More about Molly and her work is on her website, and on her personal and professional Twitter accounts. 

Dr. Nirmala Erevelles is a professor of social and cultural studies in education based at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Her teaching and research interests lie in the areas of disability studies, critical race theory, transnational feminism, sociology of education, and postcolonial studies. As Dr. Erevelles describes it, her research focuses on the unruly, messy, unpredictable and taboo body – a habitual outcast in educational and social contexts. See her academic writings here

Lydia X.Z. Brown is a disability justice advocate, community organizer, educator, attorney, strategist, and writer. They were honored by the White House in 2013 as a Champion for Change, and currently serve as Policy Counsel for the Privacy & Data Project at the Center for Democracy & Technology; Founder & Volunteer Director of the Fund for Community Reparations for Autistic People of Color's Interdependence, Survival, & Empowerment; Adjunct Lecturer in Disability Studies for the Department of English at Georgetown University; and Director of Policy, Advocacy, & External Affairs for the Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network. In recent weeks, they have written for the Brookings Institution about the unique threats of COVID-19 for people with disabilities. Read the article here, and see more about Lydia's work on their website and on Twitter