Defending disability rights in workplace and education

Brown Bag panelists Cheryl Theis and Arlene Mayerson speaking on disability rights with ASL interpreter

The audience of our second summer lecture, “Defending Disability Rights in the Trump Era,” included people with disabilities, workers from disability rights centers, and people worried about the administration of President Donald Trump.

Arlene Mayerson, directing attorney at DREDF

“What does it take to have an equal opportunity?” said Arlene Mayerson, directing attorney at the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund. “Oftentimes, receiving the same treatment will do it. And oftentimes, [it requires] an accommodation or a modification – and that’s architectural, communication, attitudinal. Policies and practices have to be modified to actually give a person with a disability an equal opportunity.”

Mayerson and DREDF Education Advocate Cheryl Theis discussed equal opportunity for people with disabilities in the workplace and in education and addressed the new challenges that have arisen since Trump took office.

Join us for our next lecture, on June 27 at noon, “Strategies for Resistance by State and Local Governments” (in our office at 180 Montgomery St., San Francisco). For a flier of the lecture series (screen-reader-accessible), click here

“The disability community under Trump is terrified,” Mayerson said. “I am dealing with people who are literally terrified.”

Cheryl Theis, education advocate at DREDF

Mayerson and Theis also discussed the importance of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), but said it’s often disregarded.

“If you’re in business and you don’t care about disabled customers, you’ll just wait until people cite the law to you,” Mayerson said. “There is already such extreme non-compliance.”

And that’s why it’s important for people to know their rights, Theis said. She said it’s also important for children with disabilities and their families to know their rights at school.

“We want kids to learn how to speak up for themselves and be self-advocates,” Theis said. “Very few of us can afford attorneys or even have a sense of what our rights are. How do we help parents use those rights?”

Here is a recap of the lecture, including live tweets and a video:

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