This year’s celebration of Disability Pride Week includes a keynote speech from a musician who won NPR Music’s 2016 Tiny Desk Contest, a panel discussion about disability justice activism, a training to Identify personal stereotypes, myths, and beliefs that shape personal perceptions and an event designed to promote inclusion with the signing of a pledge to replace the word retarded with respect.
This marks the ninth year that the Access & disAbility Alliance (AdA) has hosted events to raise awareness and promote disability pride. Disability Pride Week events run from Feb 2-9.
“Given some of our recent societal events and with Cal Poly Pomona’s vision of inclusion and our university traditions, we thought what we would do is take our disability awareness events to the next level,” said Catherin Schmitt Whitaker, president of AdA and executive director of accessible technology. “This year, we wanted to look at the intersection of disability and various cultures. Disability touches every culture.”
The series of events kicks off Friday, Feb. 2 with keynote speaker Gaelynn Lea, who uses her music to advocate for people with disabilities and promote positive social change. Lea has a congenital disability known as Osteogenesis Imperfecta, or brittle bones disease. Lea, who speaks in classrooms and at conferences, corporate workshops and staff training meetings, shares her life experiences and music in her presentations. Also performing Friday are the Hi Top Dancers, a group that uses dance and sign language to develop speech and language skills for adults with disabilities.
Other festivities planned include a panel discussion billed as “Disability in the Intersections: Queer, Crip, Bodyminds of Color.” The community conversation will focus on disability, oppression and pride among disability justice activists, community organizers and artists. The alliance also will have ability ally training for campus community members who want to take a more visible role in promoting disability awareness and offering support.
Also planned is a two-day “Spread the Word to End the Word” event in the Bronco Commons in front of the Bronco Recreation Intramural Center (BRIC). Organizers will ask members of the campus community to sign the pledge to remove the word “retarded” from their vocabularies and replace it with “respect.” The idea behind this national campaign is to raise awareness of how hurtful words and disrespect can be and promote the inclusion and acceptance of those with intellectual disabilities.
“We know that language affects attitudes and attitudes affect actions,” Schmitt Whitaker said. “We all want respect and acceptance. We want to understand and celebrate the abilities and contributions that all members of society can provide.”
Disability Pride Week Events
- “Hi Top Dancers” Hi Top uses dance and sign language to develop speech and language skills for adults with disabilities, get your dancing shoes on and see them perform Friday, Feb. 2 from 11:30 a.m. to noon in the Kellogg Gym.
- “ABC’s of Disability (Raising) Awareness, (Eliminating) Barriers and (Shaping) Culture” Keynote Address: musician and advocate Gaelynn Lea, Friday, Feb. 2 from noon to 1 p.m. in the Kellogg Gym.
- “Remove the word Retarded and Replace it with Respect” Spread the Word to End the Word campaign, Tuesday, Feb. 6 and Thursday, Feb. 8 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Bronco Commons in front of the BRIC and Quad.
- “Disability in the Intersections: Queer, Crip, Bodyminds of Color” community conversation about disability, oppression, and pride among disability justice activists, community organizers and artists, Wednesday, Feb. 7 from 3 to 5 p.m. in the Bronco Student Center’s Andromeda AB.
- Ability Ally Training: Friday, Feb. 9, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Bronco Student Center’s Lyra. Seats are limited. Required registration can be completed online.