The 2021 African American Conference on Disabilities is the premiere comprehensive disability conference in the United States that addresses the intersection between race and disabilities. The conference examines avenues for self-advocacy to ensure the effective provision of services, resources, and enforcement of civil rights in the African American and disability communities. This year’s virtual conference attendees came from all across Arizona, almost every state in the U.S., U.S. Virgin Islands, Canada, Africa, and Europe to learn and ask questions on a wide range of disability issues.
Our first-ever virtual conference featured 3 unique sessions and 8 workshops all with an emphasis on disabilities, held throughout the month of February, and had over 11,000 attendees on Zoom and Facebook Live.
If you would like more information, please email: Natalie Luna Rose, firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like to be a sponsor or partner for the 2022 conference, please email: Renaldo Fowler, email@example.com
Session #1 (February 1, 2021)
A Black disabled woman born with Cerebral Palsy, Britney Wilson is especially committed to advocacy on behalf of people of color and people with disabilities. She discussed how the COVID-19 pandemic illustrates why disability, and especially the intersection of race and disability, has always been and always will be a social justice issue that deserves more of our attention.
Opening Session Keynote Speaker:
Britney Wilson is a civil rights attorney, advocate, and writer from Brooklyn, New York.
- Transcript of Session #1 [PDF]
Session #2 (February 2, 2021)
Intersection between Race and Disability
We lag far behind other fields in efforts to achieve equity because we have yet to define it, and more specifically, what equity means in the disability space. We also cannot truly address equity without focusing on disparities, known outcomes of inequities, including those attributed to race and racism. This workshop discussed the definition of equity adapted to the disability context, described a framework for addressing disparities in supports and services, and delineated the role of cultural and linguistic competence in our collective efforts to achieve equity in the disability space.
Tawara D. Goode – Assistant Professor & Director, Georgetown University National Center for Cultural Competence & Georgetown University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities
Session #3 (February 4, 2021)
Navigating Reasonable Accommodations and Workplace Discrimination in the Time of COVID-19
This workshop provides a legal update about the employment protections under the ADA in a COVID-19 world in 4 parts. The speakers presented fact patterns from recent cases that have arisen since the start of the pandemic and review relevant guidance issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The workshop is open to all, including people with disabilities and service providers who would like to learn more about the ADA’s employment protections.
Meaghan K. Kramer, Staff Attorney, Arizona Center for Disability Law, Mark Sorokin, Attorney, US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Trisha Kirtley Wells, Attorney, Kirtley Wells Law Office
Session #4 (February 9, 2021)
Trauma: The Effects of the Pandemic on African American Families
African American families have been suffering from trauma since 1619 when they were first captured and enslaved in America. Through inequitable structures and systems see how this trauma continues today in our children and us. Participants learned how resilient African Americans are in spite of the trauma.
Dr. Carlian Dawson, Ed.D, Director of Education, Arizona Center for African American Children (AZCAAR)
Session #5 (February 11, 2021)
Addressing the Needs of Students with Disabilities During COVD-19—A Workshop for Parents
An in-depth look at the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on special education in Arizona and beyond. This workshop examined new challenges for students with IEPs and 504 plans imposed by school closures, distance learning, and new COVID-related school rules. Topics covered included compensatory education, dispute resolution options, and the school-to-prison-pipeline. Attendees were provided with several resources they can use to learn more about these topics and to advocate for the needs of the students with disabilities in their lives.
Amanda Glass, Staff Attorney, Arizona Center for Disability Law
Session #6 (February 12, 2021)
Celebrating 10 Years of the African American Conference on Disabilities:
A Journey of the Last Decade and the Road Ahead
The African American Conference on Disabilities (AACD) is the only comprehensive conference in the United States that addresses the intersection between race and disabilities. Co-founded by David Carey and Renaldo Fowler, AACD was launched in 2011 as a symposium and has continued to grow through the support of community partnerships. This session included a conversation on the history of the conference, its impact in the community, and plans moving into the next decade.
Jacy Farkas, Sonoran Center for Excellence in Disabilities, University of Arizona
David Carey, COVID-19 Inclusivity Educator, Arizona Statewide Independent Living Council – Renaldo Fowler, Senior Staff Advocate, Arizona Center for Disability Law
Session #7 (February 16, 2021)
Determined to Lead During the Pandemic
This workshop emphasized accomplishments rooted in action featuring a panel of young adults who will share their stories, advice, and expertise through candid conversation about their experiences in advocating for the lives they choose. It covered the importance of self-determination, self-advocacy, and participation in leadership opportunities for people who have disabilities.
Calvin Cook: Alumni, Diversity Ability Incorporation
Amira Hepner, Jordan Lewis, Mateo TreeTop, Nikki Trevizo, Isaac Zwinger-Nathanson
Session #8 (February 18, 2021)
Reasonable Accommodations, Modifications, Assistance Animals, and Covid-19 Considerations in Fair Housing
ACDL attorney Corey Lovato and attorney Jessica Jansepar Ross discussed the Fair Housing Act and key information that you need to know when dealing with a landlord, HOA, or prospective home purchase as a person with a disability. In particular, this session focused on reasonable accommodations, modifications, and assistance (i.e., service and emotional support) animals. They also discussed special considerations regarding COVID-19 in housing, including public housing programs and congregate settings.
Corey Lovato, Staff Attorney, Arizona Center for Disability Law, Jessica Jansepar Ross, Attorney
- Slide Deck of Session #8 [PDF]
Session #9 (February 23, 2021)
AZ ABLE Accounts: Protect Benefits and Build Financial Security!
Millions of individuals with disabilities and their families depend on a wide variety of public benefits for income, health care, food, and housing assistance. Unfortunately, these individuals are ineligible for benefits if they have more than $2,000 cash savings and retirement funds. However, opening an AZ ABLE account at the low cost of $50 will not only protect your benefits, but also build savings and financial security!
Brittaney Chipley, AZ ABLE Executive Director, Arizona Department of Economic Security
- Slide Deck of Session #9 [PDF]
Session #10 (February 25, 2021)
Ready to Protest: Techniques and Strategies for Ensuring an Inclusive Environment and Accessibility for People with Disabilities in Social Justice Activities
This workshop focused on strategies and techniques organizers of social justice activities (e.g. protests, round tables, forums), can employ to ensure that their activity is inclusive to the disability community. Topics discussed included effective communication strategies, site accessibility, and creating an access plan.
Sey In, Staff Attorney, Arizona Center for Disability Law, Imani Barbarin, Disability Rights Pennsylvania, Director of Communications and Outreach
Session #11 (February 26, 2021)
The Role and Impact of Voters with Disabilities and People of Color on the outcome of the 2020 General Election
Despite a global pandemic with a disproportionate impact on people of color and those with disabilities, voter turnout reached historic levels for the 2020 election. Amid the ongoing debates about the health of our communities and our economy, election administrators faced the difficult task of determining how to best adapt their practices and procedures to conduct safe, secure, accessible, and accurate elections. Working alongside disability advocates and the civil rights community, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission helped secure the election while ensuring voters full and equal access to the ballot.
Closing Session Keynote Speaker:
Thomas Hicks, Commissioner U.S. Election Assistance Commission, Washington, DC