Disability Rights

Speak loud enough so everyone can be heard.
— Tiara Simmons Mercius

“Disability Rights Are Human Rights” is more than a slogan. Did you know that globally, approximately 1 Billion people live with a disability? Did you also know that an estimated 20% of the United States population is disabled? Or that 25% of the disabled population are women? This is why any movement advocating for women’s rights must also advocate for disability rights, from reproductive justice, equal pay, and gender equality to healthcare, education, and protection from abuse.

We hope this page will be a valuable resource for all people. The resources and articles listed on this page are not endorsements by the organizations or authors.

Action Alert: Tell Congress to pass the ABLE Age Adjustment Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) prohibits and provides protections from discrimination against disabled individuals.

The Council For Disability Rights
The Council for Disability Rights closed its offices, but the website is still active and provides useful resources and references to the public. Such resources include, but are not limited to: Voting and election resources; legislation; education; and employment.

National Disability Rights Network
The National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) is the nonprofit membership organization for the federally mandated Protection and Advocacy (P&A) Systems and the Client Assistance Programs (CAP) for individuals with disabilities. Collectively, the Network is the largest provider of legally based advocacy services to people with disabilities in the United States.

Rooted In Rights
Rooted in Rights (RiR) uses the arts, and its disabled creators, to “challenge stigma and redefine narratives around disability, mental health and chronic illness.” Their community of disabled creators work with local and national groups to affect change for the disabled community.

“Lawmakers Work to End Subminimum Wages for Workers with Disabilities”
In the first article in a three-part series, Lisa Nagele-Piazza, J.D., SHRM-SCP discusses exceptions to the Fair Labor and Standards Act which allows employers to pay disabled workers a subminimum wage.

 

Tiara Simmons Mercius, J.D. is a New York native living in Long Beach, CA. and a disability activist/advocate. She focuses her attention on the intersections of race, disability, and gender. In 2018, Tiara graduated from Southwestern Law School where she was a member of several student organizations, including the Trial Advocacy Honors Program, Black Law Students Association, Delta Theta Phi Law Fraternity, Latino Law Students Association and Public Interest Law Committee, among others. Her research and writing on the intersection of disability, womanhood & blackness within feminist and woman-centered movements can be found at Four Wheel Workout.

WoMen For All is proud to share two excerpts from her important, extensive research.

 

Of Gloria, Angela, and Vilissa: Feminism, Race, Disability

By Tiara S. Mercius, J.D.

Sitting in a room full of women, I decided to engage in conversation with the other women.  The subject eventually turned to motherhood.  Of the 20 or so women present, I was only one of five who did not have children.  I was the only one of the attendees with a visible disability.  The women asked the childless attendees whether they planned to have children some day.  This question was not posed to me.  Instead, I was asked whether she can have children.

Over the next few days, it occurred to me that this question was asked a lot.  When I answered in the affirmative, it was only then that I was usually asked whether I planned to have any.  On one occasion, a “yes” answer was quickly followed up with a hypothetical: What would you do if your child came out disabled?  These questions not only revealed that Disabled People are not viewed as able to engage in sex, but also that Disabled People are not generally viewed as parent material.  These questions did not sound like what the author expected to hear at a meeting of women declaring themselves feminists. Read more…

 

Free Speech: What’s the catch?

By Tiara S. Mercius, J.D.

On March 12, 1990, over one thousand activists descended on to Washington, D.C. and gathered in front of the Capitol building.  About 60 disabled activists proceeded to crawl up the stairs to the Capitol building in what became known as the Capitol Crawl.  Four months later, on July 26, 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act, or the ADA, was signed into law.  On April 5, 1977, over 100 disabled activists and non-disabled supporters staged a sit-in at the Federal Building to demand recognition of disabled civil rights.  The sit-in lasted approximately 30 days, with food and medical support coming from outside groups.  The activists were protesting the 4-year delay in signing section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act into law.  On February 13, 2018, disabled activists and their allies returned to the Capitol building.  Members of ADAPT, some who were involved in the Capitol Crawl, flooded the hearing room where arguments for and against HR620, a bill that advocates believed would weaken the ADA, were being heard.  Many activists were dragged out or arrested.  On February 15, 2018, HR620 passed in the House of Representatives. Read more…