Disability Policy Consortium Weekly Update
Well things are certainly humming along as we move into the beginning of the summer. The weather looks like it might catch up to the calendar this week.
We have a new editorial on criminal justice and people with disabilities this week from Colin Killick. Under this same umbrella we also have an announcement of visor cards from MCDHH for people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing for interacting with law enforcement.
Also, the Huntington Theater needs your votes on accessibility.
As always we have some news stories for you. Enjoy the holiday weekend coming up.
Until next week, happy reading.
Disability Policy Consortium
DPC Editorial: Equal Justice Must Be for All
It's hardly a secret that policing has been an enormously controversial issue, particularly over the last decade.
Members of marginalized communities in particular often feel that police have it out for them, or are more likely to resort to violence when interacting with them than with people who do not come from marginalized backgrounds- feelings that are backed up by data. Analysis by Vox, for instance, shows that Black Americans are significantly overrepresented in police killings of suspects, and are even more substantially overrepresented in killings of suspects who were
unarmed or not attacking an officer
. People with disabilities are no exception to this; in fact, a 2016 report by the Ruderman Family Foundation found that although people with disabilities make up between 15 and 20% of all Americans, they account for up to
half of all those killed by police
Within the disability community, people with mental health diagnoses and developmental disabilities are some of the groups at highest risk of being injured or killed by police officers. In 2018, at least 21% of all people killed by police had a
mental health diagnosis of some kind
. Hard data is difficult to come by for people with developmental disabilities, but anecdotal evidence is abundant, perhaps most infamously in the case of Ethan Saylor, who died while being dragged out of a
movie theater by police in 2013
. Just last week, a grand jury declined to bring charges against officers in the death of Osazie Osagie, a 29 year old autistic black man who was experiencing mental health side effects from a medication and was shot and killed by police in Pennsylvania who were attempting to carry out a "
mental health warrant" on him
. There have also been a troubling large number of incidents in which Deaf people have been killed by police, as in the 2017 death of
Madigel Sanchez in Oklahoma City
. These deaths are tragic, upsetting, and very often completely needless, the result of officers acting aggressively and without proper training. The way police departments interact with people with disabilities needs to change.
Here in Massachusetts, we've seen progress on this front, but also some worrying setbacks. Last year 180 MA police chiefs pledged to have their officers take
Mental Health First Aid training
, and more than 17,000 officers have received training from
NAMI Massachusetts on mental health
. Despite this, however, concerning issues continue to arise. Last year, 25 year old Anthony Calabro, who had a diagnosis of schizophrenia, was shot and killed by police, and 21 year old Harvard student Selorm Ohene was tackled and punched repeatedly by Cambridge police while apparently
experiencing a mental health crisis
Meanwhile, while many departments have expressed support for changing practices related to mental health and disability, not everyone within law enforcement feels the same way. Last month, the town of Arlington allowed Lt. Rick Pedrini, who is still an executive board member of the Massachusetts Police Association, to return to work. He had been put on administrative suspension after writing a series of vindictive columns in which he said, referring to the very measures which are taught in mental health trainings for police offices ""It's time we forget about 'restraint', 'measured responses', 'procedural justice', 'de-escalation', 'stigma-reduction', and other feel-good BS ...
let's meet violence with violence.
" DPC was also contacted by concerned community members alleging that Middlesex County DA Marian Ryan, an ardent champion of Restorative Justice, which promotes reconciliation between criminal defendants and victims as an alternative to punishment, apparently said during a forum that the practice was not appropriate for people with mental health diagnoses above a certain level of severity. We have not been able to confirm what was said, and we hope that DA Ryan does in fact believe that people with mental health diagnoses should in fact be offered Restorative Justice.
This issue is so ugly, and so painful, that it is tempting to look away, but there have been too many tragedies for any of us to do so. While individual cases can often be difficult to parse, the overall trend is impossible to ignore: when people with disabilities interact with police, they are disproportionately likely to be killed-and for disabled people of color, the risk is particularly, frighteningly high. We must ask more of our police, and we must do more ourselves to change this awful reality. Police violence is a disability rights issue, and our movement must not be silent about it.
Net News: As Program End, Students Face Painful Decisions
I must admit before I read this story I did not even know that this program was available for the last 35 years. Edinboro University has offered a dorm with PCA services. Although I am usually in favor of full integration, I can see how this program would allow students to focus on learning and not on managing PCA services.
Now the program has been shut down. The reprehensible part of the story.
In the spring of 2018,
the University knew they were ending the program in the spring of 2019. Nevertheless,
they still recruited new students to begin last fall but waited until mid-September to mention that they were ending the program in the Spring.
Here is the story
from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Community News: MCDHH Visor Cards Available
MCDHH Commissioner, Steven Florio, has announced that visor cards are now available for people who are Deaf and/or Hard of Hearing. You can learn more about it from the
Commissioner's Vlog here
Net News: Huntington Theater Wants Your Opinion on Upcoming Show Access
I would like to thank each and every one of you for being a part of our Huntington family, and joining us each season.
As you know, we look to our community to cast votes on the productions you'd like to have ASL Interpreted, Audio Described, or Open Captioned. Whether you work with us to caption our productions, provide audio description or ASL Interpretation, bring students to our accessible student matinees, or you purchase tickets to join us for accessible performances, The Huntington Theatre Company determines our Access Programming as a direct result of your input. Every vote counts, and your input is the most valuable piece of the puzzle.
Attached please find brief synopses on each of the plays the Huntington is producing in our 2019-2020 season. You can also find this information by visiting here.
Five productions will be ASL Interpreted next season, five will be audio described, and three will include open captioning.
It's time to vote! Please take the time to fill out the online form that corresponds to the service you're most interested in supporting. You can vote for more than one!
All votes must be submitted by the end of the day on Monday May 20, 2019.
Please share this email (or even just the link) with as many people as possible so that we may get as many voices as possible chiming in on next season.
Thank you again, everyone. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.
Community News: Channel 25 Questions Availability of Wheelchair Service from Uber and Lyft
Channel 25, in Boston, ran a story noting the difficulty for wheelchair users to get accessible vehicles from Uber and Lyft particularly during peak hours.
You can see the story here
Opportunity: Coding Camp July 15-19
Our Space Our Place invites students who are blind or low vision to participate in an exciting week-long computer learning experience.
Participants: students ages 11 - 21 years old
- At Massachusetts Institute of Technology(MIT) in Cambridge.
- Time: 9:30 AM - 3:00 PM
- Location: 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139
- Eligible for MCB pre-ETS support
What you will do:
- Build your own website
- Meet coders, video game makers and other professionals in the tech sector and explore career options in high-tech!
As technology becomes part of all aspects of our life, it is important that as individuals who are blind or low vision we know how to both use and create technology.
Learn Today - Prepare for Your Future
To participate you must be a proficie
nt user of a screen reader and/or magnification tool.
There are 2 spaces for students who live outside of Boston or outside of Massachusetts, who would like to attend the Coding Camp.
To register click here.
For more information, to request accommodations and to ask about transportation options:
Calendar: Community Training on Emergency Preparedness for People with Disabilities
When: Tuesday, May 21, 2019, 1:00 P.M. - 2:30 P.M.
Where: Boston City Hall,
5th Floor, Piemonte Room
One City Hall Sq,
Boston, MA 02201
The Boston disability community is invited to join the Boston Disability Commission and the Massachusetts Office on Disability for a training on preparing ahead of an emergency. Attendees will learn how they can personally prepare, how local agencies prepare, and will have the opportunity to meet and ask questions of local first responders.
The goal of this training is to ensure that people with disabilities are prepared in times of emergency.
Attendees will also receive an "Emergency Go Pack" with essential items that might be needed during an emergency.
This event is wheelchair accessible. ASL and CART available upon request.
For accommodation requests please contact Evan George at 617-979-7313 or RSVP online by May 7, 2019.
If you would like to attend, please pre-register for this training.
| DPC Needs your Help!!!
The DPC uses the PayPal PayFast system for your tax deductible charitable donations. You do not need to have a PayPal account to use this system because credit card payments are also accepted.
The DPC also uses the Causes program for recurring donations (as well as one time donations). This is a great way to make a smaller monthly donation.
Donate by Mail
Make check or money order payable to:
Disability Policy Consortium
11 Dartmouth Street
Malden, MA 02148