Category Archives: Uncategorized

2022 Youth Leadership Forum

Who: Youth/young adults with disabilities, ages 16-26

When: June 25 –June 30, 2022

Where: Virtually via an online format.

Why: to help build leadership skills and leave better prepared for future employment, higher education, and independent living.

What topics are covered?

  • Employment skills
  • Advocacy
  • Disability pride
  • Career Mentoring
  • Independent living
  • Disability services

To apply and learn more, visit www.PYD.org or contact Carl Sidney, Youth Leadership Program Manager, at 1-978-364-9722 or csidney@pyd.org.

Download the Youth Leadership flyer (pdf).

2022 REV UP MA Conference

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Conference Agenda

Download the full agenda (pdf).

Scroll down for biographies of speakers and panelists.

  • Welcome and Housekeeping10:00 – 10:15am
  • Opening Remarks – 10:15am to 10:30am
    • Barbara L’Italien – Executive Director, Disability Law Center
    • Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley – Representative for the 7th District of Massachusetts
  • 2022 Midterm Elections & The Disability Community: Panel Discussion on VOTES Act & Other Issues related to Voting Access – 10:30am – 11:30am
    • Moderator: Charlie Carr – Disability Policy Consortium
    • Nancy Brumback – League of Women Voters, Vice Chair of MA Legislation Committee
    • Bridget Simmons Murphy – Project Manager, Elections Division, Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
    • Tatum Pritchard – Director of Litigation, Disability Law Center
    • Sarah Groh – Chief of Staff, Congresswoman Pressley
  • Disability Law Center Wants to Hear from You: Your Concerns about the Upcoming Election – 11:30am – 12:15pm
    • Nancy Murphy – Front Desk and Intake Unit Managing Attorney, Disability Law Center
    • Tatum Pritchard – Director of Litigation, Disability Law Center
    • Amelia Fowler – Voting Rights Advocate, Disability Law Center
  • Lunch Break12:15pm – 12:45pm
  • The Power of the Disability Vote, GOTV Midterm Elections – 12:45 pm – 2:10 pm
    • Moderator – Rachel Tanenhaus – City of Cambridge
    • Michelle Bishop – Voter Access & Engagement Manager, National Disability Rights Network
    • Lilian Aluri – REV UP Voting Campaign Coordinator, American Association of People with Disabilities
    • Tamara Huntley – Licensed Social Worker, Lead Trainer for the Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council
    • Melissa Shang – Disability Activist, Student at Harvard College
    • REV UP Mass! – Coalition Partners Speak
  • The Basics of Voting in 2022: The Basics of Voter Registration, Voting, Voter Education, and Voter Accommodations (presentation) – 2:15pm – 3:00pm
    • Marlene Sallo – Director, Preventing Targeted Violence, McCain Institute
    • Julia Kupferman – Communications & Civic Engagement Organizer, Mass Voters Table
    • Amelia Fowler – Voting Rights Advocate, Disability Law Center
  • Closing Remarks – 3:00pm – 3:15pm
    • Rick Glassman – Director of Advocacy at Disability Law Center

Panelist and Speaker Biographies

In order of appearance:

Barbara L'Italian - white woman with short blonde hair, wearing a blue blazer

Barbara L’Italian has been a leading advocate at the intersection between politics, law, health care and policy for twenty-five years. She served as both a State Representative and State Senator in the Massachusetts Legislature, focusing on the rights and needs of people with disabilities, seniors, people who are economically disadvantaged and the LGBTQ community. Her advocacy concerning Autism built the service delivery system for educational, social-emotional, and medical support and included establishing and chairing the first Autism Commission and passing comprehensive mandated medical insurance coverage. “I am honored to join the Disability Law Center in continuing to fulfill their mission,” Barbara remarks. “Working in concert with DLC’s dedicated Board and talented Staff, I look forward to building upon the existing coalition work, advocacy efforts, public profile and financial resources of the organization.”

Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley - Black woman with no hair, wearing a black shirt, sitting in front of an American flag

Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley is an advocate, a policymaker, an activist, and a survivor. On November 6, 2018, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley was elected to represent Massachusetts’ 7th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives, making her the first woman of color to be elected to Congress from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  She is a dedicated activist who’s devoted to creating robust and informed policies that speak to the intersectionality of her district’s lived experiences. She believes that the people closest to the pain should be closest to the power and that a diversity of voices in the political process is essential to making policies that benefit more Americans.

Charlie Carr - white man with white hair, wearing a button up shirt and tie, sitting in front of a disability rights sign

Charlie Carr is a disability rights pioneer who has been active in the independent living and disability rights community for over 40 years. He was institutionalized for seven years in his youth and fought his way out by laying the groundwork for the Boston Center for Independent Living in 1974. He went on to start his own Independent Living Center, the Northeast Independent Living Program in Lawrence, MA in 1980 and grew it to become a premier ILC nationally.

In 2007, he entered public service and was the commissioner of the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission until 2015. Today, he is working as the Disability Policy Consortium Legislative Liaison working on state and federal legislative advocacy, policy and coalition building.

Nancy Brumback - white woman with short brown hair, wearing a green collared shirt, standing in front of a white wall

Nancy Brumback is vice-chair of the League of Women Voters of Massachusetts’ legislation committee.  She is the League’s liaison to the coalition that drafted and advocated for the VOTES Act.  Nancy is a past director of the state League of Women Voters.

Tatum Pritchard - white woman with medium length brown hair, wearing a black blazer and standing in front of a white wall

Tatum Pritchard joined the Disability Law Center as the Director of Litigation in May 2019. Since 2020, Tatum has engaged in systemic litigation and advocacy to make accessible electronic remote voting systems available to voters whose disabilities prevent them from privately and independently casting a standard print ballot. These efforts include DLC’s successful 2020 cases in the Supreme Judicial Court and federal district court, 2021 settlement with the City of Boston and advocacy efforts ensure the addition of accessible electronic voting language into the VOTES Act. Tatum has devoted her career to challenging systemic inequities and upholding the rights of people with disabilities and other vulnerable populations through litigation in a number of settings. Before coming to DLC, she did so as an attorney at Prisoners’ Legal Services, Strategic Litigation Consultant for the International Justice Resource Center, a visiting attorney at the Legal Resources Centre in South Africa, and a Public Defender with the Committee for Public Counsel Services.

Bridget Simmons Murphy - white woman with medium length blonde hair, wearing a black zip up shirt

Bridget Simmons Murphy is a Project Manager in the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s Elections Division.  In January 2006 Bridget joined the Secretary of the Commonwealth William Francis Galvin’s office with the primary focus to ensure the voting process is accessible to all voters in Massachusetts by providing training to local election officials, surveying polling locations, providing assistance with all aspects of the accessible voting units, and working on the Accessible Vote by Mail team.

Sarah Groh - white woman with long brown hair, wearing a green shirt with a blue blazer

Sarah Groh is Chief of Staff to Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley.  In this role, Sarah leads policy, strategy and day to day management for the Office. and draws on her expertise in policy, communications, coalition building, and operations.  A longtime resident of the Massachusetts 7th Congressional district, Sarah is proud to serve her home Congressional district and work for Congresswoman Pressley, a seasoned policy maker and unapologetic advocate committed to advancing justice for all people.

Nancy Murphy - white woman with medium-long brown hair, wearing a red-orange shirt, standing in a kitchen.

Nancy Murphy is the Front Desk and Intake Unit Managing Attorney at the Disability Law Center. Attorney Murphy focuses on individual and systemic advocacy for individuals with disabilities living in the community and in facilities. Attorney Murphy specializes in investigating allegations of abuse and neglect, ensuring appropriate discharge planning from a facility, and protecting individuals’ human rights in any setting.

Amelia Fowler - white woman with short pink hair, wearing a black hoodie, standing in front of a wooden fence.

Amelia Fowler is the Voting Rights Advocate with Disability Law Center. She has several years of direct practice experience as a social worker. In the past few years, Amelia has been doing community organizing and voting rights work with diverse communities.

Amelia has worked tirelessly to create and coordinate this 2022 REV UP MA Conference.

Rachel Tanenhaus - white woman with short hair, wearing black rimmed glasses and a red and black floral dress, sitting next to a black poodle and in front of multiple flags.

Rachel H. Tanenhaus, MPH is the ADA Coordinator/Executive Director of the Cambridge Commission for Persons with Disabilities. She has provided technical assistance on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), accessible information technology and other access-related topics for over twenty years and has been participating in disability awareness panels since she was ten years old. Rachel is a current member of the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind’s Regional Advisory Council for Region 3.

Michelle Bishop - white woman with short curly brown hair, wearing black rimmed glasses and a black and white stripped sweater over an orange shirt.

Michelle Bishop is the Voter Access and Engagement Manager at the National Disability Rights Network, where she leads a team to support the protection and advocacy network on voting rights and voter engagement for people with disabilities. Michelle also works in coalition with the civil rights community in Washington, DC to ensure strong federal policy regarding voting rights and election administration from a voter-centric and intersectional perspective.

Lilian Aluri - medium brown skin woman with long black hair and bangs, wearing a stripped collared shirt, standing in front of a white wall.

Lilian Aluri is the REV UP Voting Campaign Coordinator at the American Association of People with Disabilities, also called AAPD.  She works together with REV UP organizers to advance the power of the disability vote, research voting accessibility issues, and support AAPD’s broader advocacy.  In this role, Lilian seeks to advance the rights and inclusion of the diverse disability community at AAPD and beyond. 

Tamara Huntley - white woman with short brown hair, wearing black rimmed glasses and a purple floral shirt.

Tamara Huntley is a self-advocate and single mom of two thriving teenagers who holds a Bachelor of Science degree in social work from Bridgewater State University.  She is a licensed social worker who currently works as a Lead trainer for the Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council. For over 10 years, Tamara has been training others to learn how to advocate for themselves and define their own future goals.  

Melissa Shang - Asian American woman, with black hair pulled back, wearing a white top.

Melissa Shang is a Disability Activist and a Student at Harvard College.

Julia Kupferman - white woman with medium length curly brown hair, wearing a flowy white shirt, standing in front of a wall.

Julia Kupferman is the Communications and Civic Engagement Organizer at the Massachusetts Voter Table (MVT.)  She joined the MVT team as a Tisch Summer Fellow in June 2020 and has continued working with MVT ever since. Previously, Julia gained field experience through working on several campaigns as well as organizing with J Street U during college as the national president. Julia is excited to fight for racial justice and economic equality at MVT. 

Marlene Sallo - Latina woman with short brown hair, wearing a black dress, standing in front of a tree.

Marlene Sallo serves as the Director for Preventing Targeted Violence at the McCain Institute for International Leadership at Arizona State University. Prior to joining the McCain Institute, Marlene served as the Executive Director of the Disability Law Center (DLC) of Massachusetts. Under her leadership, DLC secured a critical victory in federal court that ensured Massachusetts voters with print and visual disabilities could exercise their right to vote privately and independently in the 2020 general election.

Barry Finegold - white man with short brown hair, wearing a blue collar shirt, standing in an office.

Senator Barry Finegold

has served for over two decades in the State Legislature. He currently is the State Senator for the Second Essex and Middlesex District, which includes Andover, Dracut, Lawrence, and Tewksbury. He chairs the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Election Laws and the Joint Committee on Advanced Information Technology, the Internet, and Cybersecurity.

Senator Finegold also is a founding and managing partner of Dalton & Finegold, LLP, specializing in Residential Real Estate and Commercial Real Estate. He lives in Andover with his wife, Amy, and his three children, Ava, Ella and Max.

Cynthia Creem - white woman with short blonde hair, wearing a pin-stripped collared shirt and black blazer.

Senator Cynthia Creem, Majority Leader, has served in a public capacity for more than 30 years, first as a member and President of the Newton Board of Aldermen, and then as a member of the Governor’s Council prior to becoming a State Senator in 1999.

Our active coalition partners include:

  • Disability Law Center
  • Disability Policy Consortium
  • Mass. Developmental Disabilities Council
  • Mass. Advocates Standing Strong
  • MASS Rainbow
  • MetroWest Center for Independent Living
  • The Arc of Massachusetts
  • and more

Amelia Fowler (she/they)  

afowler@dlc-ma.org
Voting Rights Advocate
Disability Law Center, Inc.  
Direct phone/fax/text: 617-221-8451

Learning Opportunities from National REV UP (AAPD)

(updated 4/4/2022)

Organize for Justice – with the Midwest Academy

April 11-14, 11:30-4pm EST 
Midwest Academy will be hosting a training just for REV UP on Organizing for Justice. This 4-day virtual training will take place April 11-14, from 11:30 to 4pm EST, with breaks throughout the day. This training will be interactive and focus on developing strategic campaigns, injecting racial justice into your organizing, how to be more effective in your outreach and recruitment, and more. ASL interpreting and CART captioning will be available, as well as other accommodations requested.

Attendance is limited for this training, so if you are interested in joining the training, please apply with the link below by Thursday, March 17, 2022 at 5pm EST!

Apply for Organize for Justice


Campaigning with a Disability Recording

March 21, 2021 – ​REV UP co-hosted this ​webinar ​with the National Coalition on Independent Living (NCIL)​ on March 21​. The event included a presentation from Sarah Blahovec at NCIL about ​key things to ​consider when ​thinking about running for office as a person with a disability. The event also included a panel discussion ​Harriet Hines, Jules Good, and Nikki Villavicencia​, each of whom shared their experiences with campaigning as a disabled candidate.

Campaigning with a Disability recording and Campaigning with a Disabilitytranscript.

Voter Registration Workshop Recording

March 23, 2021 – This spring, REV UP is hosting a series of workshops on Getting out the Vote in the disability community. This first workshop on March 23 focused on voter registration and featured panelists from the REV UP network and partner organizations including Gene Martinez, Krystle Allen, Rainey Dock Matthews, and Carolyn Dewitt.

View the Transcript and video: AAPD Voter Registration Workshop Part 1 recording and transcript

Voter Registration Workshop Part 2

Wednesday, April 6, 2-3 p.m. ET

Even after spending an hour and a half together on March 23, many questions remained.

In order to provide more time to explore key voter registration challenges and opportunities, we will have another workshop on Wednesday, April 6, from 2 to 3pm ET. This workshop will include ASL and captioning. If you have any other accommodation requests, contact me at laluri@aapd.com.

Register for AAPD Voter Registration Workshop Part 2

About National REV UP at AAPD

The American Association of People with Disabilities spearheads the national REV UP.  They recently created the Rev Up Voting Campaign Guide with lots in useful information.

Testers Wanted for Accessible Voting System

Perkins School for the Blind will be testing a digital voting system in order to help make the voting process as accessible as possible for people who have disabilities. To do this, they are conducting a “mock election” on the Perkins Campus in Watertown, MA on Monday March 21 through Wednesday March 23. As you know, accessibility remains a major barrier to voting for people with disabilities and with your help we can try to ensure that every vote counts! You will receive a $25 Amazon gift card for your participation.

Who is eligible:
People with disabilities who are eligible to vote (at least 18 years old and a U.S. citizen).  Participants do not need to be registered.  Participants can speak Spanish or English. 

When:
Monday, March 21, 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Tuesday, March 22, 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Wednesday, March 23, 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Where:
In Person at the Perkins School in Watertown

How to sign up:
Please complete this brief questionnaire if you are interested in helping to make voting more accessible to millions of Americans! Someone will then follow up with you to schedule a day and time that is convenient for you (it should take no more than 15-30 minutes). To ensure everyone’s safety, facial coverings are required and social distancing practices will be in place during the events.  Please email Gary Aussant at gary.aussant@perkins.org if you have questions.

WGBH Interview with Marlene Sallo

We All Have A Right To Be Engaged

Marlene Sallo, ED of Disability Law Center, was interviewed by WGBH on election day.

Watch the video and read the story at https://www.wgbh.org/specials/2020/11/03/we-all-have-a-right-to-be-engaged-civil-rights-attorney-on-making-voting-accessible-to-all .

“Her team’s efforts to ensure that this year’s elections were accessible to all voters began nearly a year ago, when the Disability Law Center started working with state and local officials to ensure that the language used for mail-in voting met the same accessibility standards as those for voting in person. Given health and safety considerations due to the coronavorus pandemic, it became even more important to ensure that all voters could safely cast their ballots, whether at the polls or from home.

“Don’t we all have the right to vote independently and privately?” she said. “Someone with a disability should not have less of a right than someone without a disability.”

WGBH’s NCAM Supports Voters With Disabilities By Ensuring Access To Digital Information

Let’s hope this is in place in Massachusetts for 2022!

NCAM, an accessibility consulting unit of GBH, which made its mark early on by inventing captioning for broadcast television, is working with states and app developers to improve the accessibility of voting information, election-related websites and tools and the voting experience itself for the more than 35 million U.S. voters who have a disability. Most recently, NCAM has worked with Voatz, a Brookline-based developer, to ensure that its voting app, long used by overseas military personnel, is accessible domestically for people with disabilities.

Read the article NCAM Supports Voters With Disabilities By Ensuring Access To Digital Information.

REVUP MA Conference

Let’s Get Out the Disability Vote in 2020!

This year has challenged all of us. Now, more than ever, we have to make sure that each and every one of our voices is heard through the Power of the Disability Vote!

Join REV UP MA’s video conference conversation on Friday, September 11 at 10:30 am to discuss the importance of disability advocacy during this year’s Presidential Race and how we can all work to Get Out The Vote!

We want to hear from you – What are your concerns? What issues should the candidates be addressing? How can we make sure that every vote is counted!

Register

Register online at DLC-MA.org.

Agenda

10:30 AM – Welcoming Remarks

10:40 am – 11:45 am – COVID, the 2020 Election and Accommodations – Current Protections and What we need to do moving forward – Discussion followed by a Q&A

  • Michelle Tassinari, Director and Legal Counsel – Secretary of State Elections Division
  • Commissioner Thomas Hicks, Election Assistance Commission

11:45 – 12:15 pm – DLC Wants to Hear From You: What Are Your Concerns About the Upcoming Election

  • Tatum Pritchard, Director of Litigation, Disability Law Center
  • Marlene Sallo, Executive Director, Disability Law Center

12:15 – 12:30 pm – BREAK

12:30 – 2:00 pm – The 2020 Election & Why We Need to Get Out the Vote – Discussion followed by Q&A

  • Michelle Bishop, Voter Access & Engagement Manager – National Disability Rights Network
  • Rebecca Cokley, Disability Rights Activist/Director – Disability Justice Initiative, Center for American Progress
  • Erin Prangley, Director of Policy, National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities
  • Sandy Ho, Research Associate, Lurie Institute for Disability Policy

2:00 – 2:30 pm – Closing Remarks

More info

Join the Video Conference Conversation

** Registrants may participate by telephone **

ASL Interpreters and CART have been confirmed.

Please submit any accommodation requests to Amanda at 617-315-4440 or agasparonis@dlc-ma.org by no later than September 4, 2020.

ADA 30 – The Next 30 Years

Reprinted from the Disability Policy Consortium Weekly Newsletter on July 27, 2020 by Colin Killick, Executive Director. The changes he describes will need new legislation and greater enforcement of laws. These needed changes are exactly why you need to vote!

It’s incredible to think that it’s been 30 years since the passage of the ADA. So many eloquent words have been said over the past weeks and months about the titanic impact this law has had in making our world more accessible and quite literally opening doors for our community. We’ve also seen major milestones lately for the public awareness of what it took to make the ADA, and Section 504 before it, happen, most recently in the huge success of Crip Camp. As the world is learning, people with disabilities were not handed our rights, we fought for them, and defeated some of the most powerful commercial interests in this country to make them a reality. We’ve seen that power again and again in the years since, from the fight to save Medicaid in 2017, to defending PCA access and doubling the size of the AHVP program here in Massachusetts. As Bob Kafka put it, “if we believed that ADA is the power and we are the recipients of its strength, rather than we are the power and ADA is a tool for us to use, I fear we may still have a long way to go.”  For all the massive changes the ADA wrought, there are still huge hurdles we have to clear to achieve full equity for our community. Therefore, I want to lay out just two of many areas that I hope we will be looking back on as huge victories 30 years from now.

Genuinely Integrated Accessible Living

Some of the worst discrimination our community still faces is housing segregation. People with disabilities in this country have far less choice in where to live than those who do not have disabilities, for a variety of reasons. Deliberate discrimination on the part of landlords is still a major problem, as testing by HUD and other agencies has shown. This discrimination has also been institutionalized in some public housing systems, including here in Massachusetts, in the form of quotas that limit the percentage of under- age 65 people with disabilities who can live in Elderly-Disabled Housing buildings. These quotas are often the direct result of fearmongering against people with mental health diagnoses, falsely claiming that they pose a danger to their elderly neighbors despite there being no statistical evidence to back this up; I was once in a meeting with a now-former elected official who told us point-blank that if we would just agree that people with mental health diagnoses did not count as disabled for housing purposes, they could give us “all the units for people in wheelchairs you want.” (Obviously, we said no!)

Another major issue in this area is the severe shortage of housing that is both affordable and accessible; the ADA accessibility requirements for apartment buildings largely only applied to those constructed after the bill’s passage. As a result, the older housing stock (including almost all single-family units, which are very rarely required to be accessible) is sometimes affordable but rarely accessible, while the newer housing stock is frequently accessible but very rarely affordable, particularly in major cities where luxury developments constitute a huge share of new construction. Finally, one of the biggest issues is the continuing segregation of millions of people with disabilities into Nursing Homes and other congregate settings–very often not because they need to be there, but because bias in the payment structure of state Medicaid programs means nursing homes are the default for people who need Long-Term Services and Supports, while getting PCAs and other in-home options requires jumping through hoops. That system has robbed people with disabilities of their independence, their dignity, and during this pandemic their very lives.

To address these issues, we’ll need multiple major reforms. State and federal authorities should conduct frequent investigations of landlords for discrimination against disabled renters (using proven effective methods such as paired testers) and punish landlords for discriminatory behavior. We need to end discriminatory quotas in public housing, and create affordable accessible housing via new regulations on housing developers to bolster access (like the AAB Bill we continue to fight for in the legislature) and increase affordability (via tools like AHVP and expanded affordability rules. Finally, we need to put an end to the nursing home as we know it, replacing it with vastly expanded access to in-home supports, and where absolutely necessary, small specialized facilities that have real infection controls, real protections for residents’ rights, and which are geared always to get people back into the community safely as soon as possible.

Breaking the Link Between Disability and Poverty

Arguably the biggest way that people with disabilities are repressed in this country is that we are far more likely than our non-disabled peers to live in poverty. As with the issue of housing, this has multiple causes. Employment discrimination is rampant against our community; according to a landmark 2015 Rutgers study, people who disclose a disability in their cover letter are 26% less likely to get a job interview, even when their disability is totally irrelevant to the position they are applying for. Flaws in our Special Education system also lead to many students with disabilities being segregated from their non-disabled peers and steered away from taking the kinds of risks that could lead to economic independence. Perhaps the biggest barrier to the economic empowerment of people with disabilities, however, are the poverty traps built into our disability benefits programs. As Stapleton et al. lay out here, our federal disability benefits programs are stuck in an outdated and discredited medical model that defines disability as an inability to work, and ties benefits to income in a punitive manner that punishes people for succeeding by yanking away the supports they need to survive.

To fix this problem, we need a variety of policy changes. As in housing, we need aggressive investigation of employment discrimination and punishment of firms that engage in it. We need to shake up the way we educate young people with disabilities to promote inclusion and achievement. Most of all, we need to rethink the way our government thinks about disability. Instead of having a fractured landscape of disability programs with varied and contradictory definitions, we need a single federal disability benefit based on a commonsense definition of disability that does not reply on income. Once someone was enrolled, they would stay involve, and what benefits you received would shift smoothly as your income and the level of support you needed changed, rather than dropping off abruptly to nothing once you crossed a particular threshold. If we succeed in this approach, then thirty years from today we may well be able to look back at a world where the promise of the ADA has been fully achieved, one in which having a disability has no bearing on the likelihood that you will be poor, or homeless, or victimized by violence, but it rather simply one more aspect of your identity as a human being.