Disability Digest 
The monthly DISABILITY RIGHTS e-publication
Disability Network Southwest Michigan
April 2019
Advocacy Academy provides training and work for youth & young adults over the summer
yong adults meeting around a table
Disability Network Southwest Michigan is excited to be offering Advocacy Academy in both Kalamazoo and Battle Creek this year. Advocacy Academy is an eight-week, paid, summer program for youth and young adults. After an introduction to the Disability Rights Movement, participants will work as a group to select, plan and carry out a disability rights advocacy campaign.

We are accepting applications for Advocacy Academy through May 9, 2019. We are seeking individuals with disabilities who are between 16-29 years of age, able to commit to the entire eight week position, and are motivated to increase their leadership skills. Follow this link for more information or to apply for this year's Advocacy Academy
Disability hierarchy divides us in a dangerous way 
ladder ranking disabilities
Disability hierarchy is a social construct that makes certain disabilities more acceptable than others. In this article, Meriah Nichols says this hierarchy was established by the non-disabled and  revolves around disability being a negative presence in life.  
From the beginning, the disability rights movement has gained it's strength from people across disabilities being united in working for rights of all people with disabilities. Nichols says we can't allow this hierarchal system to divide us.   
Coming out as disabled  
COMING OUT AS DISABLED | My Visible and Invisible Disability [CC] 
In this video, vlogger Anne Elainey talks about what it feels like to have a disability that may or may not present itself the way people "expect" disability to look. Elainey explains that especially with invisible disabilities, it is really hard for people to understand that she DOES have a disability -- it doesn't come and go like the flu. Even more difficult, is to explain this to people when you don't yet have a diagnosis -- as if you should have to justify it! 
Learning from those who have been there
woman holding her son close
When Elizabeth Picciuto didn't like the solutions the doctors where posing for her son who had a rare genetic disorder called cri du chat syndrome, she didn't know where to turn. Someone suggested she connect with
other people who had the disorder and hear what they had to say about their experiences.  
Connecting to this type of peer support community was invaluable for Picciuto. Through this connection, she realized that she didn't need to find ways to make her son assimilate to the norms of society, she needed to create an environment where her son could be himself and be happy.   Follow this link to read her article, "Not Mine To Mold."  
Know Your Rights
Overview of laws protecting people with disabilities  
Coming in May, this all new workshop will cover the laws which protect people with disabilities in the areas of employment, housing, education (K-12 & post-secondary), public places/access, voting, and transportation.

This event is being held in Kalamazoo, St. Joseph and Battle Creek. Follow this link for more information about the Know Your Rights workshop and to register for the date and location of your choice.
Disability Network Southwest Michigan
Kalamazoo Office
St. Joseph Office
517 E. Crosstown Parkway
2900 Lakeview Avenue
Kalamazoo, MI 49001
St. Joseph, MI 49085
(269) 345-1516
(269) 985-0111

You can help support the Disability Rights Movement in Southwest Michigan with a tax-deductible donation to Disability Network.
Visit our website to donate on-line.