I didn’t want October to pass without highlighting Disability Employment Awareness Month and Disability history month in Washington schools. Washington law, RCW 28A.230.158 states in Washington state during October public schools, kindergarten through college, “shall conduct or promote educational activities that provide instruction, awareness, and understanding of disability history and people with disabilities.” Sadly, few educators know about this requirement and even fewer teach about disabilities during the month.
In the waning days of October, please take some time to learn about disability history. If you’re a Washington educator please remember to highlight disability awareness year-round, not just in October. To get us started I’ll share some resources to help jump-start the conversation about Disability Justice and inclusion.
Guest Fakequity writer Carrie Basas co-authored this post with me at the start of COVID about working from home and accommodations. It is probably time for many of us to give it a review and see how we’re doing, hopefully, many of the things we wrote are not routine for your organization, such as closed captioning during Zoom meetings and providing accommodating scheduling to allow people to take care of their mental health and other needs.
Another Carrie blog post on disability, identity, and some thoughts from kids about disabilities.
Websites and Resources
Washington State Office of Education Ombuds has a really great resource for educators and parents, One Out of Five: Disability History and Pride Project. Topics include – Introduction to Disability, Intersectionality, Disability History in the US and WA, and allyship. There are additional resources for educators or others to dig into.
Disability Visibility Project is a website run by Alice Wong, a very badass disability activist. It is a great website to browse and read more about people with disabilities. It is an online community to create, share and amplify disabled people’s creations and culture.
Rooted in Rights provides person centered storytelling and accessible digital content around disabilities. Their content has helped to spur conversations and advocacy, including around not blocking intersections.
Here is a short list of a few books to help jumpstart conversations around disabilities. I’ll note the books written by people with disabilities.
Alice Wong’s new memoir Year of the Tiger is worth reading. She opens with talk about cyborgs and makes it work. She also writes about what it means to be a person of color, Asian American, and what this means to her identity. She also has other books out including Disability Visibility and a teen version. (Author with disabilities.)
Christina Soontornvat, a young adult and children’s author, wrote about Senator Tammy Duckworth’s life, disability (wounded war veteran), and activism in the book A Life of Service: The Story of Senator Tammy Duckworth. I read this with my kid who enjoyed it and I think some of the theme have stuck with her. Senator Duckworth’s memoir is here (author with disabilities).
I haven’t read The Future Is Disabled: Prophecies, Love Notes and Mourning Songs by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha yet, but have long appreciated the author’s activism and some of their other books and work. (Author with disabilities.)
The Americans With Disability Act (ADA) turned 30 last year. Fighting for Yes!: The Story of Disability Rights Activist Judith Heumann highlights some of that history in this children’s book.
Keah Brown’s book The Pretty One: On Life, Pop Culture, Disability, and Other Reasons to Fall in Love with Me is on my list of books to read, I hope it will join your list too. (Author with disabilities.)
Heart Berries by Therese Marie Mailhot (Seabird Island Band, First Nations Canada Indigenous) writes about her experience with bipolar II and post-traumatic stress disorder in a way that is neither look-at-me-for-overcoming nor sad to the point where you want to put the book down, instead it is open, honest, and adds an important voice to understanding mental health. [added 10/28/22]
Why I wrote this: It is important to think about and actively work to be allies with people with disabilities. Continuously learning more about disabilities and people with disabilities is important.
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I am writing from the lands of the 29 federally recognized and non-federally recognized tribes in now Washington State, including the Coast Salish people — Duwamish, Muckleshoot, Suquamish, Snoqualmie, Snohomish, and Native American organizations that have treaty rights and have been here since time immemorial. I give my thanks to the elders, Native and Indigenous colleagues and relations, and the land itself. Fakequity pays “rent” to Native organizations in Washington and Hawaii; a small act to repair and work to be in more justice-based relations.