Disability Talks: Don't Dis My Ability

Disability Pride PA- COVID Can't Stop Us from Celebrating

June 11, 2021 Abilities in Motion Season 2 Episode 11
Disability Talks: Don't Dis My Ability
Disability Pride PA- COVID Can't Stop Us from Celebrating
Show Notes Transcript

Every year the city of Philadelphia, PA raises the ADAPT Pride flag over city hall and celebrates all persons with disabilities. This year Vicki Landers and her team will host a 10 day virtual celebration for all to join.  The will be speakers, singers, and other artists showing and sharing their pride for a world-wide audience.

Disability Pride PA promotes more visibility and cultivates the pride felt within our community as we advocate for an inclusive world.

 To find out more and register for FREE,  follow these links:
Website: https://disabilitypridepa.org/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DisabilityPridePA/
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/DisabPridePA
Instagram:   https://www.instagram.com/disabilitypridepa/

For more information about Abilities in Motion, visit our website at https://www.abilitiesinmotion.org/ or follow us on social media.
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AbilitiesinMotionPA
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/abilitiesinmotion/

Intro:

Welcome to DisAbility Talks, a podcast produced by Abilities in Motion. I'm your host, Shelly Houser. Join us for real conversations and no nonsense talk from everyday people with disabilities living their most independent everyday lives. Tune in for the latest news surrounding disability, accessibility, and independence, where conversations aren't dissed and stories that need to be told aren't missed. So let's talk.

Vicki:

Welcome back guests. This is Shelly Houser, and I am your host for DisAbility Talks. Today is our g uests V icki Landers from Disability Pride, PA, h ow are you this morning? Hello? I'm good. Good. Thanks for joining us. Every year the City of Philadelphia celebrates people with disabilities in a big way. And I think you were just telling me 25% of the city's population is persons with disabilities. Is that correct? Yes.

Shelly:

Each year you guys do a big usually in-person event, but this year, once again, I think we're going to put it on a virtual whole because of COVID. Is that correct?

Vicki:

Yes, we are doing virtual disability.

Shelly:

Pride PA is a nonprofit that strives to promote more visibility as they fight for a more inclusive world. And Vicky Landers is the president and CEO of Disability Pride PA. Thanks for joining us to kind of let us know what's going on in the city of Philadelphia and how this event's going to look this year again. So tell us about you and how you got started in this organization.

Vicki:

So my name is theVicki Landers, I go by she her , um, and I, for those that don't know me, I'm a white woman with purple hair and purple glasses. It's kind of what everybody knows me by. I am , a person with multiple disabilities and I got started working with disability pride the second year of their existence. They actually had a, a n event in 2012 with the National Constitution Center when they brought in the Justin Dart wheelchair for display and then disabled people, said, well, why don't we do this every year? And that's how Disability Pride Philadelphia got started. I got in t h e s econd year because I was actually homeless in Philadelphia. And somebody suggested that I work with Liberty Resources, the Center for Independent Living there. And they got me working at the art studio, which was down in the basement of the art facility at that point. And I was doing artwork and making posters and banners for the event. So I started to come to go to the meetings and they realized, I guess, very quickly on that I could do more with the event. I do have a management background. I, r an 10 stores for an organization before. So I did have some background in all of that. And so the following year I worked with Al an H oldsworth, who was the director at that time, very closely. And then we worked together for six years, u m , p utting the event on and then he left to take on a big project in d isability, equality an d e ducation. And I decided at that point that this was my main focus and this was what I was going to continue to do.

Shelly:

So that's great. It's a really great project that it grows more and more, I think. Yeah, for those of our listeners worldwide, who don't know the significance of who Justin Dart is and his wheelchair. Can you explain the significance of his wheelchair and who he was in the independent living movement for all of us?

Vicki:

Sure. Justin Dart. Um, most of us consider the grandfather of the ADA. He was a very striking man, very tall, thin, and used a manual wheelchair. Um, had this amazing hat that he wore everywhere. And he was a part of discussions way before the ADA and talking about how we needed to have access , um, even back in the early seventies, sixties and seventies. Um, and he was invited to the table to talk about the ADA , and how we could make it our law. And he can, can you to do that until his death. Um, and then his wife , Yoshika Dart, who is also a mad advocate for disabled people, gifted , his wheelchair and some of the, some of his same to the National Constitution Center so that it could be admired and talked about. And he could be recognized Yoshiko Dart's, an amazing woman. She came to every Disability Pride, Philadelphia parade up until 2018 with us. So for six years , she came every year to our event.

Shelly:

That's wonderful that you've got such an amazing, amazing support from a huge advocate that , that kept the torch going for, for Justin after he had passed away. So how do you reach the disability community that doesn't have access to transportation in the Philadelphia region?

Vicki:

So , one of the things that I do before I do it before I start any planning is I, we sit down and we look at access and how we can make sure that we're reaching as many people as possible. One of the things here in the city, we have public transportation and CCT that needs a lot of help, but it is what we have at the rewards . So I always look at spaces that are accessible to transportation of all types and try to bring in as much access that way that we can, for those who don't have that access. We have tried in the past to rent buses and to try and talk to SEPTA about helping us out in those kinds of ways, but we still, I still fight every day to try and bring those, to bring more people in. I mean, in the city, there are 25% of the city is still not internet does not have internet access. That's not because they can't afford it. That's because the city does not have that access yet to support them.

Shelly:

Have you seen a change for the positive in, in making that improve in the past few years at all? Or no, it's still stuck there?

Vicki:

So transportation has gotten better. And I, I hear through the grapevine that SEPTA is actually looking at at their bus lines and things like that to try and make it more accessible to more of the city. We'll see how that works

Shelly:

In this last year and almost a half of COVID-19. What have you been doing online to connect with the community? Not just in the Philly region, but you know, obviously, you know , broader scale. You know, what kind of events have you been hosting?

Vicki:

So we have a concert series that we do every month where we bring in disabled performers, comedians, all kinds of different things. We have interpreters, ASL, interpreters, and captions for every event, no matter what we do. And there was today, there was a big question about , language interpreters. And so that's something I a m working on now. So we have, we have concert series. We have once a month, we have, we call let's talk about disabled sex conversations, which are amazing. We used to do big seminars in person. And so we decided that to do them in one hour snippets every month that we h it a lot of people that come t o last year, people were like, oh, maybe, maybe like every two weeks i t was like, well, maybe w e'll be able to go back in person. Not quite. I j ust, I decided in the middle of April, this wasn't happening. And there w ere so many organizations and events that were just, well, we're just not going to have it this year. And I said, well, that can't happen. We have to celebrate disability pride. And it was the 30th of the ADA. Yeah.

Shelly:

It was a huge year for us.

Vicki:

Yes. So I said, well, we're December virtually. And I made , we made it happen. I mean, there just, wasn't a choice of not doing it for us. We had an amazing event. It was a, a 30 day celebration. We had 80 individual events within those 30 days that lifted voices from all over the community, all over the state, because that is our goal is to be Pennsylvania, to be disability proud. We also we had 17,000 people that chimed in last year for event , we have 35 states and 22 countries that participated. I thought to myself, I was like, wow, I'm like, this is how you can really reach people. Everything that we do from now on we'll have a virtual aspect to it.

Shelly:

Whats normal, like in previous COVID years, what was the normal turnout in person? Do you calculate those numbers?

Vicki:

So where you would see probably about 2,500 people. That was probably the last numbers for Philadelphia only, and that's still not a lot. And we were still, you know, growing and learning the last year that we had it. We had grown out of our space. Yeah and we were actually in the, in the worst of having a huge event on the Parkway, which turned into virtual PA,

Shelly:

I think it's incredible that you reached that many lives on a global scale. And if , if one thing that COVID for all the atrocities that it's brought us with loss, accessibility and inclusion in a whole new way is I think one of the biggest themes that COVID has taught society, that it can be done. It should be done show the rest of the world, you know, share with the rest of the world, what what's being done in other parts. So Bravo to you and your team.

Vicki:

Thank you. Yeah, we get, we get emails and Facebook messages all the time from folks from all over the world that are asking us to help them to figure this out for them.

Shelly:

That's good. I mean, it's connecting us in a whole unique way that 10, 20, 30 years ago, we would never be able to do that. So hopefully you and your team are able to help even a handful of those folks and help them find their independence. So speaking of your team, what is your pride team do to help more voters with disabilities in the last couple of years to have their voices and their choices during the election years in the last two , three terms?

Vicki:

Um, so we really, for us, we take our cues from the CIL, Liberty Resources. They have been doing amazing work with voters. What we could do over this last election, of course, every year we talked to the voting office about accessibility. It was funny because, you know, they told us that every location was accessible, but it wasn't,

Shelly:

It's not, it's really not.

Vicki:

Yeah. And so we continue to go to the locations, show them what was not accessible. Tell them that when they're changing locations at the last minute, they're not thinking about access to that new location. That one step makes it not accessible. We're constantly, you know , we constantly are talking to our council members to get them, to help us with the fight. Liberty Resources teamed up this last, this last period with Rev Up.

Shelly:

Yes.

Vicki:

And they put out an amazing book that you could get online, or we would deliver it to you. And it had pages for each person who you could vote for and kind of what their stance was, not our opinion of their stance, just their stance on disability. And this was, this was probably 50, 60 pages in total for us, we were talking to our folks, would you like more information? Tell me where you are. We're going to get it to you and making sure that they had it, making sure that they were looking at where their locations were and then telling us so we could check those spaces and make sure that they could do it. And then we had call-ins that asked us to help them register, which you can't do, but we could get them the help that they could have so that they could get registered. We would tell them, hook them up with the folks who actually were able to help them out do and do that. And then of course, we both talked about how those things are not accessible for folks. Again and again, I , you know, the conversation I had this morning was all about how we tell people how to do it and they don't listen.

Shelly:

Did you see an uptick in voters with disabilities in this last election last year?

Vicki:

Absolutely.

Shelly:

Do you think they'll continue now that they know the process and they're registered, do you think taken enough disability pride to continue to be an American voter one way or the other?

Vicki:

I think so. Um, I think, you know, again, getting registered to vote is a huge process for a lot of folks and not accessible. So I think we made a huge difference in this last vote.

Shelly:

Now, what would you say to folks with disabilities? Not only in the Philadelphia region, but maybe nationwide, what would you tell them about getting out to vote and their rights to vote?

Vicki:

Well, first it is your right as American citizen to vote. It is also your responsibility to vote. If you want to have a say, or you want to be able to say something after the votes to me, if you don't vote, but you want to have something to say, when it didn't go your way, there's a disconnect there. If we as disabled people, the community, as a whole voiced our opinion, we would have more to say in the long run with what is going on and what is provided for us

Shelly:

In a nutshell. Perfect. I think with that, we're going to take a commercial break and we'll be back with Vicki . Landers

AD:

Abilities in Motion is a Pennsylvania based nonprofit organization dedicated to helping individuals with disabilities live their lives on their own terms. Abilities in Motion strives to eliminate psychological stereotypes, physical barriers, and outdated attitudes that prevent social and civic inclusion as well as promote the independent living movement to empower, educate, and advocate for individuals with disabilities. For more information about programs and services, Abilities in Motion provides call (610) 376-0010, or visit our w ebsite@w ww.abilitiesinmotion. org.

Shelly:

Welcome back listeners. And today's guest is Vicki Landers from Disability Pride PA in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Vicki , tell us about this year's Disability Pride celebration.

Vicki:

Um, okay, so this year it is again, it's the Disability Pride virtual PA event. Uh, we are taking it as a 10 day celebration, June 21st through the 30th, we have over 30 events. It is going to be virtual . So everybody has to do it through zoom because we find zoom is the most accessible as everything that we can find. Um, we'll also be doing some live streaming through Facebook and on our YouTube channel. So all of the things that you can find are on our website. It's one place to find everything. Even the events it'll have the list of the events with the link on it. You register once and you will get the links for those events.

Shelly:

Is there going to be American sign language and captioning?

Vicki:

Yeah, they are always automatic. We also ask if somebody needs another accommodation. Um, and this year we're looking at also providing language interpreting if somebody asks for it. Correct.

Shelly:

So nothing will be displayed. Will there be any billboards or murals or any celebrations of raising the disability pride flag in the city of Philadelphia during these 10 days at all?

Vicki:

So the National ConstitutionCenter is going to raise the national flag. It shows our history where we came from and where we still need to go. And they will raise that flag for us and it'll be up , during the events. So we are working on that with the city because they're not all completely back , with COVID. So it's still something that we're working on, but we're also working with SEPTA to see if we can get some advertising so that more folks know about us in that way.

Shelly:

What does the adapt flag look like for our listeners that aren't familiar with?

Vicki:

It looks like the American flag, but in the blue square, it is a wheelchair set with a person who has their arms over their head and they're breaking chains.

Shelly:

So they're breaking free and having independence.

Vicki:

Yes.

Shelly:

Okay. But it is still typically the red, white and blue symbolic American flag.

Vicki:

Correct.

Shelly:

So I want to talk to you lastly, about some major work that you do with the disability equality in education, I guess project, could you tell us more about what you've to do with that?

Vicki:

So the disability equality a nd education is a part-time job that I do not with Disability Pride PA, but on the side, because it is something that I truly believe in. And the work that we are doing is we do it t o a grant with t he PADDC. And we have talked to legislation about b eing a disability, inclusive bill through V A, which representative Joe H ornstein is working on. W hat that is asking is first that disability be integrated into the general curriculum. We don't want a class. We don't want a week or a month celebration. We're trying to end stigma. So ending stigma is normalizing the word disability and the o ld you don't do that by putting it into a little group that somebody has to learn at a certain point, it's talking about disability throughout all of your subjects and it can be done. And we have a website, disability, equality, education.org that has lesson plans, and the lesson plans are continuing to be put up on t here. They're going to be inclusive of all of the different classes that you can learn from. And from K to 12, my specific project I'm working on arts and culture. And what I was able to do is to have workshops on what disability art is and how disability a rt is different than a disabled person making a rt and the importance of disability a rts. And that I was able to hire disabled artists to actually create work for K through 12.

Shelly:

I have the children's seen it yet. Their artwork?

Vicki:

They have not. My artwork is due on May 15th, we have a amazing K through 3 coloring book on disability etiquette. We have some great what is disability , that are going to be turned into posters that kids can take home and put up on their walls that are being done for ages five through eight. And then in high school, we have two projects going on. One also is a kind of poster project about feeling different in high school and then the other is about a , a newer subject, which is called golden shovels poetry. And we have an autistic person working on how we got into golden shovels poetry and how to do it and how it works and kind of like a learning workbook.

Shelly:

Okay. Interesting. Yeah. I'd be curious to see how the children responded to the art and what they got out of it and how it would impact their own view of their own work, their own workspace.

Vicki:

Yes. Each piece has three lesson plans that work with it. So we're making it very easy for the teachers to incorporate it. I actually have a , a focus group, the Philadelphia art education association here in this region who are going to put it out for their students and tell us what they think

Shelly:

That'd be great to have that feedback. So I always say you, we teach children and adults with disabilities, how to interact within the community. So why don't we teach the community and society how to interact with us?

Vicki:

Correct.

Shelly:

You know, they , they put that pressure on us to figure out how to be integrated into the, into the community, in every aspect of our lives.

Vicki:

Absolutely.

Shelly:

A nd following that social model, I really just don't think that it's necessarily completely upon us to be the only ones to figure that out.

Vicki:

Right. Which is why we are such hard advocates for what access looks like. And it's not just providing us with the accommodation . It is putting us at the table, hearing our voices and letting us being leaders, because we know what disability looks like. And where are the people that, you know, right now I have to sing about DEI - diversity, equity and inclusion officers that everybody's hiring.

Shelly:

Yes, it's a buzz buzzword of the month or the year kind of thing.

Vicki:

But most of those conversations that go on don't include disability.

Shelly :

Exactly.

Vicki:

And the disability community is all of those things .

Shelly:

It's the core of what we are really. It just kind of completely alone for the rest of society. It's like, oh, we didn't even think about that yet . We are not a secondhand thought.

Vicki:

We are the experts!

Shelly:

At least we're talking about diversity, equity and inclusion. At least it is a common phrase.

Vicki:

Yes. And now through adapt and , and through the changes of inclusion with the changes of COVID and the change in the government.

Shelly:

Yeah. It's allowing us to have our voices heard. I was thrilled to hear, you know, that Judy Huemann, the disability advocate from the sixties, seventies, even now, she's still advocates that she had worked under the Obama administration. And I believe she will have some part in this administration as well. Yeah . Um, to make sure things are done appropriately to continue on peeling away those borders and those barriers.

Vicki:

Right. I mean, it's one of the core things the, with are with the bill that we asked for, that we asked them to rate the core piece of that is that they need to bring in a group of disabled people when they start to think about how it's going to be included in the education process to make sure that they're including the right way.

Shelly:

Because I think an able-bodied persons view of accessible as in voting is not the same as somebody that's a wheelchair user or somebody that uses a walker or has mobility issues or has blindness or dwarfism.

Vicki:

Right.

Shelly:

It's a whole other gamut that they need to take a step back and look at.

Vicki:

They need to listen and be a part of the conversation, but they are not the voices it should be heard.

Shelly:

Exactly. So we need more representation in our local state and national government. Correct. On that note, I'm going to finalize the podcast and ask, where can our listeners find out more about you and disability pride PA?

Vicki:

So the easiest way to find us is on our website , which is Disability Pride Philadelphia.org , or on our Facebook page, which is always very, very active. And that is Facebook.com/DisabilityPridePA. And those are the greatest ways to find us. You can also, if you would like to email us at info at Disability Pride Philadelphia.org , We asked , we will answer any question that comes up.

Shelly:

I was actually able to view some of your past events that were in-person through a YouTube and Googling you. Do you have , a formal YouTube channel? That's just Disability Pride PA?

Vicki:

Yes, we do. Okay . Yes. that, that has past events. Some folks that we t alk to, it has children's stories that are, th at a r e, are done, which is one of the amazing things that we were able to pull off last year and then our favorites, favorite conversations or other videos from YouTube that we think that people should see.

Shelly:

Perfect. And with that, I'm going to thank Vicki Landers for joining us today, here at DisAbility Talks. Vicky, thanks for joining us. I really appreciate your time.

Vicki:

Oh, thank you. Thank you. I love to talk to people about this and I really appreciate you giving me a voice.

Shelly:

Absolutely. And to our listeners near and far, please check out Disability Pride PA this June 21st to the 30th, virtually online, remember listeners to hit that like and subscribe button. So you never miss an episode of disability talks.

Outro:

Thanks for tuning in to this episode of DisAbility Talks want to keep the conversation going then visit our website at Abilities in Motion .org , or connect with us on social media. And remember don't dis my ability.