Disability Digest 
The monthly DISABILITY RIGHTS e-publication
Disability Network Southwest Michigan
November 2019
Disability Network Advocates Make Things Happen!   
Michigan Rep. John Hoadley on the House floor
Michigan Representatives Jon Hoadley and Steve Marino introduced legislation that would make funding available for employers to provide accommodations for employees with disabilities. This legislation is a direct result of the work of our 2017 Advocacy Academy interns.
Each summer Disability Network holds an Advocacy Academy in which a small group of youth and young adults with disabilities are hired for an eight-week term in which they learn advocacy skills, select an initiative to work on and implement the skills they have learned. In 2017, our Advocacy Academy interns developed an advocacy campaign to promote the establishment of a State-funded program that would help employers offset the cost of accommodations for employees with disabilities.  
As part of their program, our Advocacy Academy interns traveled to Lansing to pitch their idea to State legislators from our area. Representative Hoadley immediately began working on it. Hoadley said, "Michiganders with disabilities have the same right as anyone else to build a life that's right for them here in our state. When advocacy interns from Disability Network Southwest Michigan proposed this idea to help more people with disabilities enter the workplace, we were ready to get to work in the Legislature."     
Follow this link to read more about our involvement with getting the Centralized Reasonable Accommodations Act off the ground.  
Person First vs. Identity First --
Just ask! And be respectful! 
There has been a lot of controversy in the disability community about which is preferred -- person first ("John has autism") or identity first ("John is autistic") language. The difference might seem subtle if you are not a person with a disability, but for people with disabilities, it can be a contentious point. Some people strongly want to be seen as a person with their disability as just one factor of their being; others want to proudly claim their disability as a strong part of their identity.  
Trends have changed over the years, and it can be hard to keep track of what is the more accepted format. Furthermore, particular disabilities have claimed different positions; for instance even when "person first" language was accepted as the social norm, the autistic and Deaf communities felt strongly that they wanted to claim their identity first. But even then, that does not speak for every person in those communities.
In this short video, Ivanova explains that the best policy is to respect what each individual person prefers. Listen to how they refer to themselves and their disability or simply ask them which they prefer. And above all else, be respectful about it!  
Accessibility is the New Punk Rock      
Gaelynn Lea at a microphone
Gaelynn Lea is a folk musician who uses a motorized wheelchair. After winning the NPR Tiny Desk Concert Contest in 2016, she decided to tour with her music.  
In this Moth Radio performance, she describes life on the road as a musician with a disability. She talks about how frustrating it was to show up at venues to find there was no ramp to the stage, or that she couldn't get backstage, or worst of all, the gig was upstairs with no elevator! At first she tolerated it and made do the best she could, but it just didn't sit right with her. Then she started to notice that some of her fans were in wheelchairs and could not see her perform because the venues were inaccessible. That's when she got more demanding, and creative, about performing only in accessible venues.  
In relating the situation to the musical world, she equates it to punk rock in the way that she was going against the establishment. She said, "I decided accessibility is the new punk rock. That is my motto for life right now."

Rise Up!
Disability Resistance, History & Pride
disability rights protestors
Many of us in the disability community are unaware of the depth of our culture and history and feel shame and stigma instead of pride around our disability identities. Join us for this workshop with discussion and activities that promote knowledge of disability history and support the journey to disability pride.

This workshop is being offered in Kalamazoo (11/15), Lawrence (11/20), and St. Joseph (11/21). Follow this link for all the details of the Rise Up! workshop and to register.  
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.