AWN is excited to announce our new webinar programming! This work began in 2020 and is continuing throughout 2021.
Please find updates about the latest events in our #LiberatingWebinars series below.
Surviving Burnout from Ableism & Racism in the Pandemic
Sunday, 31 January 2021, at 1pm ET / 12pm CT / 10am PT
Join AWN for a discussion about burnout and racism and ableism in the pandemic.
Disabled people in Black, Brown, Indigenous, Asian, and mixed-race communities live and struggle against the trauma of racism and ableism every day. During the pandemic, our communities have witnessed and experienced constant violence – in the medical and psychiatric systems, in the criminal legal system, in the educational systems, and in our own homes, communities, and movements. We are all burned out and far beyond capacity even though we are often on the front lines fighting for justice and freedom. This webinar will discuss what it means to survive burnout from racism and ableism during a global pandemic, and how we can offer care to each other outside of harmful systems.
We will provide ASL interpretation (with a CDI) and CART captioning for this event, which participants will be able to join by video or phone.
Allilsa Fernandez is a mental health and disability advocate and activist. They are currently Advocacy and Policy Senior at ENDependence Center of Northern Virginia, and member of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project’s Shelter Organizing Team. He is a board member of the National Council on Independent Living, DREAM, and ISPS-US. She is also a peer specialist and aspiring lawyer.
Dom Chatterjee (they/them) is a freelance editor, holistic health educator, and the lead organizer behind QTPoC Mental Health. They seek healing through peer support, aerial arts, music, baking, and writing. Find the community-driven resources they organize on restforresistance.com.
Lydia X. Z. Brown is AWN’s Director of Policy, Advocacy, & External Affairs.
Disability Justice & Access-Centered Pedagogy in the Pandemic
Sunday, 28 February 2021, at 2pm ET / 1pm CT / 11am PT
Join AWN for a fireside chat with Aimi Hamraie and Mimi Khúc about access-centered pedagogy and disability justice.
Last spring, school went virtual for everyone from kindergarteners to grad students. Some college students had no safe place to go to. Parents and caregivers working in and outside the home have had to contend with competing and sometimes impossible demands on money, time, and energy. Some teachers, faculty, and staff have been pressured to return to in-person teaching in unsafe conditions. Many students have been craving in-person learning and community. Everyone has felt the demands to rush, and above all, to perform and achieve despite the collective trauma and mass death of the pandemic. And still the pandemic has hit disabled people at the margins of the margins the hardest, depriving us of resources, support, and care. This fireside chat between two leading scholar-activists will explore what access-centered pedagogy, rooted in disability justice, can offer us all.
We will provide ASL interpretation and CART captioning for this event, which participants will be able to join by video or phone.
Aimi Hamraie is associate professor of Medicine, Health, & Society and American Studies at Vanderbilt University, where they direct the Critical Design Lab. Hamraie is author of Building Access: Universal Design and the Politics of Disability (2017). They are co-founder of the Nashville Disability Justice Collective and Nashville Mutual Aid Collective.
Mimi Khúc is a writer, scholar, and teacher of things unwell and Scholar/Artist/Activist in Residence in Disability Studies at Georgetown University. She is the managing editor of The Asian American Literary Review and guest editor of Open in Emergency: A Special Issue on Asian American Mental Health. She is very slowly working on several book projects, including a manifesto on contingency in Asian American studies and essays on mental health, the arts, and the university. But mostly she spends her time baking, as access and care for herself and loved ones.
We are working to publish links to recordings of all past webinars here. Each recording will include ASL interpretation, captioning, and a full transcript.
Abolition, Deinstitutionalization, and Decarceration in the Pandemic
Monday, 25 January 2021, at 8pm ET / 7pm CT / 5pm PT
AWN hosted a discussion about connections between disability justice and abolition in January 2021.
The pandemic has hit hardest and deadliest in institutions including jails and prisons, psych hospitals, nursing homes, group homes, and large-scale developmental disabilities institutions. This webinar will discuss connections between disability justice and abolition, explain deinstitutionalization and decarceration, and explore strategies that advocates and organizers are using to challenge ableism, racism, and other forms of violence arising during the pandemic.
Dustin P. Gibson works in the tradition of deinstitutionalization and has worked with Centers for Independent Living (IL) in Pittsburgh, PA and both of the national IL organizations. He is the Access, Disability and Language Justice Coordinator at PeoplesHub, a Peer Support Trainer with Disability Link in Atlanta, GA and a founding member of the Harriet Tubman Collective.
Shain M. Neumeier is a lawyer, activist, and community organizer, and an out and proud member of the disabled, trans, queer, and asexual communities. They focus on ending abuse and neglect of disabled youth in schools and treatment facilities. Shain has worked with the Intersex and Genderqueer Recognition Project, the Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network, and the Community Alliance for the Ethical Treatment of Youth.
Lydia X. Z. Brown is AWN’s Director of Policy, Advocacy, & External Affairs.
Self-Advocacy for Survival: Disability Rights and Mental Health
Thursday, 17 December 2020, at 7pm ET / 6pm CT / 4pm PT
AWN hosted a watch party featuring a panel of five self-advocates with disabilities discuss undergrad and graduate students’ access to mental health support in December 2020.
Students with cognitive, developmental, neurological, and learning disabilities experience higher rates of mental health disabilities, including depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Yet most universities do not provide meaningful, affordable, or long-term mental health services. As a result, undergraduate and graduate students often must advocate for campus-wide access and parity. In this panel, current and recent students with disabilities discussed their work to engage campus partners and advocate for improvements.
Jess L. Cowing is a neurodivergent scholar-activist living on unceded and occupied Piscataway lands. Jess recently finished their PhD in American Studies at the College of William & Mary and works in the areas of feminist disability studies, settler colonialism, and 19th and 20th century literary studies.
Elayne R. Otstot is the author of Public Health Girl, a website detailing public health in our current political climate. She is a member of the University of Texas at Arlington’s inaugural Bachelor of Science in Public Health class, and a graduate of the inaugural Disability Law Fellowship at the Coelho Center for Disability Law, Policy, & Innovation at Loyola Law School. Currently, Elayne is community outreach specialist for the film Invalid Corps, and a board member of the Autism National Committee. Passionate about educating people about the challenges that many people with disabilities face on the daily basis, Elayne has also written for her university’s newspaper the Shorthorn, and served as a representative for the Office of Students with Disabilities to the student government at the University of Texas at Arlington. During her time as a representative for students with disabilities, Elayne addressed issues with transportation and safety, as well as advocated for an increase in the number of counseling and support staff on campus to aid students with psychological and other disabilities during their time at UTA. Recently, she worked with the American Cancer Society for its Mission: HPV Cancer Free program to design and present an accessible and educational seminar to UTA students about the importance of HPV awareness and address many of the issues surrounding barriers to vaccinations. Elayne also previously worked as newsfeed curator for the Disability and Abuse Project.
Natalia M. Rivera Morales is a PhD. candidate and Andrew W. Mellon Predoctoral Fellow in Hispanic Languages and Literatures at the University of Pittsburgh. Her dissertation examines gendered and racialized impressions of cognitive and somatic disability in Puerto Rican literature, medical culture, and jurisprudence. Her other areas of research interest include Antillean Literature and Philosophy, Bio/Necropolitics, Critical Race Studies, New Materialist Ontologies, and Feminist Approaches to Bioethics. She holds a bachelor’s degree, summa cum laude, in Global Studies from Loyola University Maryland and a master’s degree in Latin American Studies from Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service. Natalia is originally from Bayamón, Puerto Rico and has resided in the U.S. mainland since the age of seven.
Kenna M. Chic is currently a paralegal at a health law firm. She graduated from the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, where she studied Foreign Service with a minor in Disability Studies. Her greatest passion is disability policy and advocacy, especially as it relates to psychiatric disabilities. At Georgetown, Kenna had served as both the Vice President of the student government, where she created the Student Mental Health Fund to address mental health disparities students face while seeking treatment off-campus. Kenna additionally served as the President of Project Lighthouse, an anonymous peer to peer chat-line that provides peer support and information about campus resources. Outside of Georgetown, Kenna had served in multiple advisory boards, internships, and fellowships. She was previously a law fellow with the Coelho Center for Disability Law, Policy, and Innovation. She was a member of Mental Health America’s first Collegiate Mental Health Innovation Council, where she was featured in their college program report, Beyond Awareness: Student-led Innovation in Campus Mental Health. Finally, as a member of the Jed Foundation’s Student Advisory Council, Kenna worked with Facebook on technology and suicide prevention resources. Kenna’s mission is to defend the rights of people with mental illness through policy, with her passion heightened by her work at the US Senate HELP Committee, the US House of Representatives Education and Labor Committee, and the National Institutes of Health. Eventually, Kenna aims to pursue a law degree to further her advocacy in mental health and disability rights.
Finn Gardiner is communications specialist at the Lurie Institute for Disability Policy at Brandeis University. His research and advocacy interests include education and employment for autistic adults, comparative disability policy, inclusive technology, LGBTQ cultural competency, and policy that takes into account the intersections between disability, race, LGBTQ identities, class, and other experiences. He holds a Master’s of Public Policy degree from the Heller School and a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Tufts University. Finn also serves as a member of the Board of Directors at the Human Services Research Institute, a nonprofit dedicated to research and policy advocacy benefiting people with disabilities and seniors.
Enabling Access for Autistic Trans People in Healthcare
Wednesday, 28 October 2020, at 8pm ET / 7pm CT / 5pm PT
The Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network and the National LGBTQ Task Force hosted a watch party about autistic trans access to healthcare in October 2020.
The Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network and the National LGBTQ Task Force are excited to share a brand new guide for trans autistic people called Before You Go: Know Your Rights & What to Expect at the Doctor and in the Hospital. This guide will help our trans and autistic community members know better what to expect when going to doctors or hospitals, understand rights and responsibilities, and strategize for safety planning, effective communication, accommodations, and more.
We hosted a live watch party of a panel of autistic trans advocates discussing autistic trans people’s access to healthcare, health disparities, and advocacy strategies to challenge ableism and anti-trans discrimination in health care settings.
Kayley Whalen is an independent communications consultant who works with organizations dedicated to social justice. She has led digital campaigns for numerous organizations including Sins Invalid, the Alliance for Citizen Directed Supports, Trans United Fund, Greenpeace USA, Casa Ruby and the National LGBTQ Task Force. She is a neurodivergent transgender Latinx advocate and writer and was Miss USA in the 2020 Miss International Queen transgender pageant in Thailand. Her blog TransWorldView records her experiences interviewing members of the transgender community in Southeast Asia and around the world.
Finn Gardiner is the Lurie Institute’s communications specialist. He is a disability rights advocate who is primarily interested in accessible communications, intersectional disability justice, inclusive technology, and equitable access to community resources including education, employment, and health care. Throughout his work, Finn combines disability advocacy, policy analysis and research, and written and visual communications through policy briefs, original reports and white papers, and contributions to research projects. His research and advocacy interests include education and employment for autistic adults, comparative disability policy, inclusive technology, LGBTQ cultural competency, and policy that takes into account the intersections between disability, race, LGBTQ identities, class, and other experiences. He holds a Master’s of Public Policy degree from the Heller School and a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Tufts University. Finn also serves as a member of the Board of Directors at the Human Services Research Institute, a nonprofit dedicated to research and policy advocacy benefiting people with disabilities and seniors.
Noor Pervez is a community organizer who works at the intersection of race, religion, LGBT+ issues and disability. He is the Community Engagement Coordinator at the Autistic Self Advocacy Network and Access Director at Masjid Al Rabia. He previously led his campus LGBT+ advocacy group, Rainbow Guard, and gave a number of talks regarding intersectionality. His previous work centered on exploring the intersections of disability, LGBT+ and religious issues. He is a graduate of the University of Texas at Dallas with a degree in Emerging Media and Communications.
Victoria M. Rodríguez-Roldán is the senior policy manager for AIDS United, where she brings her own unique intersectional specialties to the fight to end the HIV epidemic. Particular areas of expertise and focus are the issues affecting people living at the intersections of transgender identity, disability and mental illness from a social justice lens. She frequently speaks on discrimination issues impacting the trans and disability communities. She has been profiled in multiple national media outlets and has been published in multiple academic outlets. Before joining AIDS United, she was senior policy counsel at the National LGBTQ Task Force where she led the Trans/GNC Justice Project and the Disability Justice Project. She currently serves in the boards of directors for both HIPS, an organization dedicated to harm reduction for sex work and drug use in Washington, D.C., and Equality New York, New York state’s leading LGBTQ equality organization. Victoria holds a B.A. in psychology with honors from the University of Puerto Rico, and a J.D. from the University of Maine School of Law. She lives in the Washington, D.C., area.
With gratitude for our generous sponsors
Our community outreach and educational programming is supported by the following sponsors:
The Collective Future Fund with the support of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors
Borealis Philanthropy, Disability Inclusion Fund
Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights
We also offer thanks to the many others who have made our webinar programming possible, including Kyle Duarte, Shaina Ghuraya, Gino Gouby, Jeremy L. Brunson, Desiree Kane, JaRon Gilchrist, Victoria Tejada, Ashley Cohen, Anna McClain, Jayne Tubergen, and Cathy Renna.