May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month.
There are more than 18 million Asian Americans in America today. More than 1.3 million of them experience some form of disability.
There are also 612,857 native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders living in the United States; almost 65,000 of them experience disabilities.
Ollie Cantos is a Filipino-American attorney who has been blind since birth. He successfully upheld anti-discrimination laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Fair Housing Act, the Help America Vote Act, and the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act. At one point, he was the highest-ranking person with a disability in the federal government.
Ollie reminds us that these battles are still being fought every day, saying, "As a society, yet again, we are at a critical crossroads. By coming together to amplify our voices, in the spirit of the great Mahatma Gandhi, we each get to BE the change we want to see."
What change do YOU want to be?
April is Autism Acceptance Month. In honor of this month, UCP Oregon would like to share a piece written by Andrew Haynes.
Andrew is the Brokerage Administrative Assistant for UCP Connections, and is a person with Asperger’s. Andrew would like to thank Silas Bird (Operations Coordinator for UCP Connections) for assistance in creating this piece.
By Andrew Haynes, Brokerage Administrative Assistant, with assistance from Silas Bird, Operations Coordinator
Autism Acceptance Month is a time to celebrate and embrace the unique qualities of individuals on the autism spectrum. It's no longer enough to simply raise awareness about autism; we must shift our focus towards acceptance and inclusion.
We must advocate for policies that prioritize inclusion, education, employment opportunities, healthcare access, and social support for autistic individuals.
The article "Autism Speaks doesn’t speak for Autism" by Isabelle Ouyang provides a compelling argument against the popular organization Autism Speaks.
The author argues that Autism Speaks perpetuates harmful stereotypes and stigmatizes individuals with autism rather than helping them. Ouyang points out that Autism Speaks' advertising campaigns often portray autism as a tragedy, which can lead to negative attitudes towards those with the condition.
Additionally, the organization's focus on finding a cure for autism implies that people with autism need to be fixed or cured rather than accepted and supported.
The author also critiques the lack of representation of autistic individuals in leadership positions within the organization, which can lead to a disconnect between those making decisions and those directly affected by them.
Many individuals with autism have spoken out against Autism Speaks, stating that they do not accurately represent their experiences or perspectives.
The Puzzle Piece Symbol
The puzzle piece has been a symbol of autism awareness for decades, but it is time to retire this outdated symbol. The puzzle piece implies that individuals with autism are incomplete or missing something, which is not only inaccurate but also offensive. Autism is not a puzzle to be solved or fixed; it is a neurological difference that should be accepted and celebrated.
Furthermore, the puzzle piece does not accurately represent the diversity within the autistic community. Autism is a spectrum disorder, meaning that individuals with autism have varying abilities and challenges. Using one symbol to represent such a diverse group of people oversimplifies their experiences and perpetuates stereotypes.
Instead of using the puzzle piece, we should listen to and amplify the voices of autistic individuals themselves. They can tell us what symbols or language they prefer and what truly represents them as unique individuals. It's time to move away from outdated symbols like the puzzle piece and towards more inclusive representations of autism.
It is crucial for organizations working with marginalized communities to prioritize listening to and uplifting their voices rather than speaking for them without their input or consent.
As you may know, April is Autism Acceptance Month.
Two employees of UCP Connections, Stephanie (Lead Personal Agent) and Glenna (Advocacy & Outreach Coordinator), compiled several great resources and quotes.
“Acceptance is an action. This means that autism acceptance is an active process that requires both a shift in thinking and in action.”
– Autistic Self Advocacy Network
“Autism awareness isn’t really necessary anymore. Sometimes neurotypical advocacy efforts end up being viewed by the Autistic community as parents looking to wear a badge for knowing someone with autism. Most people already know Autism exists. Autism Acceptance…now that’s something to advocate for. That’s what #RedInstead represents.”
AUTISM ACCEPTANCE MONTH 2023
It’s April, which means it’s “Autism Awareness Month.” It’s also “Autism Acceptance Month.”
As Autism Parenting Magazine writes, “Autistic people aren’t a monolith—everyone has their own preference for what terminology he/she/they finds empowering. Still, many support the shift from ‘awareness’ to ‘acceptance.’”
Self-advocate and blogger Lyric Holmans says, “Autism Awareness—knowing autistic people exist. Autistic Acceptance—accepting autistic people as they are, strengths and weaknesses. Autistic Pride—autistic people feeling safe & confident enough to have pride in their authentic neurodivergent selves.”
Self-advocate Kassiane S says, “Awareness is easy. Acceptance requires actual work.”
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network agrees, saying, “Acceptance is an action. This means that autism acceptance is an active process that requires both a shift in thinking and in action.”
Many other groups have also moved from “acceptance” to “awareness.” They include the Autism Society of America, the Association of University Centers on Disabilities, the Autistic Women and Non-Binary Network, and the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities.
Whichever name you choose to use, we hope you’ll join us this month—and always!—by embracing neurodiversity.
Learn more here:
Did you know that March 25th is National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day?
The nationally recognized holiday was created in 2006 by a non-profit parent advocacy group called “Reaching for the Stars.”
One way to make a difference on this day is to help spread awareness with your community.
Here are some facts you might like to share:
Here are some other simple ways to make a difference on National Cerebral Palsy Awareness Day:
PS: Want even more CP facts? Check out this link.
HONORING JUDITH HEUMANN
March is Women's History Month, a time to celebrate the contributions and achievements of women throughout history.
It is also a time to recognize the unique challenges faced by women, including those with disabilities.
This week, we learned of the sad passing of Judith Heumann, one of the world’s most recognized disability advocates.
At the age of two, Judith contracted Polio and lost the ability to walk. When Judith attempted to start kindergarten, the principal physically blocked the family from entering the school, calling Heumann a “fire hazard.” Luckily, Judith’s mother fought for her daughter’s right to an education. Judith went on to graduate with a BA in 1969.
In the 1970’s, after battling the New York Board of Education, Judith became the first teacher in the state to use a wheelchair. Later in her career, she helped establish the Independent Living movement.
Judith also worked for the Clinton Administration and served as Assistant Secretary of Education under President Barack Obama. She worked for the World Bank and the State Department.
As she said,
When I was in the State Department, I took the bus to work every day, I traveled around the world, and I demonstrated what is possible. I think that sent an important message: Don’t assume my life is a tragedy or that disabled people have nothing to contribute. We are leaders, fathers, mothers, daughters, and sons, we are capable voters and contributors, and we are not invisible.
Judith also played a important role in the development of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
In 2020, Judith was the star of a documentary, “Crip Camp” and also published a memoir, Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist.
Judith passed away on March 4, 2023. Armando A. Contreras (the President and CEO of the United Cerebral Palsy National organization) writes,
Our nation has lost one of its greatest champions in the fight for the civil and human rights of people with disabilities… Ms. Heumann lived life fully, fearlessly and zealously advocating to change society’s systemic social and physical barriers against people with disabilities. Her life’s work helped reshape and elevate the world’s view of what a person with a disability can achieve.
WOMEN'S HISTORY MONTH, 2023
Hey! Did you know that March is Women’s History Month?
As journalist Melissa Young says, “Women have been making history for centuries; for some, this was the only choice they had.”
Women with disabilities make history, too.
Melissa reminds us that, for many women who experienced disabilities “it was either live the way others expected them to or fight for the lives they knew they (and all people with disabilities) deserved.”
Famous women who experience/experienced disabilities include:
We are excited to share UCP Oregon’s newest Annual Report, which covers the 2020-2021 fiscal year.
The theme of this report is “Change.”
As our Executive Director, Ann Coffey, states in the report, “There has been so much change... But, through it all, the UCP community stood strong and resilient. We stood together. We sought new ways to complete our work. We found new ways to connect. We discovered new ways to find balance and purpose.”
A gigantic thank you to everyone who contributed, as a writer, photographer, and/or editor!
February is Black History Month. It’s a time to hold space for Black Americans, to recognize and celebrate and grieve parts of American history that may feel all too invisible.
For UCP Oregon, it’s also a time to celebrate the contributions and struggles of Black people who experience disabilities.
Currently, 5.5 million Black Americans are living with a disability. But, as Ola Ojewumi says, “to be Black and disabled in America is to be invisible.”
Ola Ojewumi is both Black and disabled. She’s an activist, journalist, and a community organizer. She contributes to the Huffington Post, and founded two nonprofits.
Ola says, “According to the version of American history I was taught in the public education system, it's as though people with disabilities didn’t make any significant contributions to our society. The same was largely true for African Americans... Yet when you look at Black history, there is an undeniable link to disability; some of our greatest Black heroes and heroines have been disabled.”
She adds, “Since our society fails to do enough to acknowledge both communities' significant contributions, it is up to us to amplify Black disabled voices and both groups’ histories."
That’s why Ola created the #DisabledBlackHistory campaign. It's a social media initiative that celebrates the milestones of disabled black Americans.
Read more about Ola Ojewumi and #DisabledBlackHistory here.
Honoring MLK Day 2023
Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Last year, we shared a list of powerful MLK quotes that was curated by Karen Wang. Karen is the mom of several children, including a son with disabilities.
As Karen writes, “As I plan for my children’s future, I find myself returning to [MLK’s] lessons for guidance. Human rights are for everyone, and we still have a long way to go on our journey.”
These quotes are so good that we're sharing them again.
What are you doing to honor Martin Luther King Jr. Day?
PS: You can read Karen's article here.