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International disability rights leader to address people with disabilities in Niagara County

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Wed, Jun 17th 2020 07:00 am

As it has for several years for its annual Disability Pride festivities, Independent Living of Niagara County is celebrating the anniversary of the Supreme Court “Olmstead v. LC” decision (June 22, 1999), which confirmed the Americans with Disabilities Act’s provision that people with mental health disabilities have the right to live in the least-restrictive environment (that is, in our communities). However, this year, ILNC has a special guest speaker: International disability rights leader Judith Heumann will address people with disabilities in Niagara County (via video conferencing) at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 25.

Just before this event, there will be two special viewings of the Netflix documentary “Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution,” the true story of Camp Jened in Hunter, New York, which served as the East Coast birthplace of the disability civil rights movement. Thereafter, former camp counselor Heumann will lead a discussion on the current status of people with disabilities, and what options exist at this point.

Heumann, who uses a wheelchair, took the New York City Board of Education to court in 1970, because she was denied a teaching position due to her mobility impairments; also, in that year, she founded Disabled in Action in the Big Apple. In 1974, while a legislative assistant to the chairperson of the U.S. Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare, she helped develop legislation that became the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Additionally, Heumann was deputy director for seven years of the first Center for Independent Living in the nation, in Berkeley, California; a co-founder of the World Institute on Disability; the first director for the Department on Disability Services of the District of Columbia; the Clinton administration’s assistant secretary of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services at the U.S. Department of Education (1993 to 2001); the World Bank Group's first adviser on disability and development (2002-06); the special adviser on disability rights for the U.S. State Department, appointed by President Barack Obama (2010); and a Senior Fellow at the Ford Foundation (September of 2017 to April of 2019).

The ILNC’s Disability Pride celebration will take place over three days, providing individuals who RSVP the opportunity to view “Crip Camp” for free with a link at 6 p.m. Monday, June 22, and Wednesday, June 24. Of course, current Netflix subscribers can see it anytime. All are welcome to participate in Heumann’s June 25 wrap-up, via computer access or telephone, by contacting Jillian Moss at [email protected] to get the GoToMeeting online conference log-in information.

Independent Living of Niagara County is a member of the Western New York Independent Living Inc. family of agencies that offers an expanding array of services to aid individuals with disabilities to take control of their own lives.

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