Lois Curtis and Elaine Wilson and the text

As we celebrate another Women’s History Month, it is important to observe the contributions of women in the disability community that have shaped the way we approach our work today and how being a woman shapes how the leaders of DRP approach disability advocacy.

Two women whose advocacy guides disability work across the country twenty years later are Lois Curtis and Elaine Wilson (pictured above), the women of the Olmstead Decision. In the nineties, Lois and Elaine found themselves institutionalized against their will in the state of Georgia. This went against both their stated desire to live in the community and the advice of their doctors and therapists. In 1995, with the aid of the Atlanta Legal Aid Society, the women filed a lawsuit with the argument that their continued institutionalization violated Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and that they had a legal right to live in the community.

In 1999, the Supreme Court ruled that people with disabilities have the right to live in the community. Since then, thousands of people with disabilities have moved into communities across the country as the Olmstead decision set precedent. Disability Rights Pennsylvania continues their legacy today by protecting and advancing the rights of people with disabilities across the state and listening to the disability community about the direction they want their lives to take.

Giving space for women with disabilities to lead is as important as having women in leadership roles at DRP. “Empathy and inclusiveness are key to systemic change and full inclusion for the disability community.  Bringing more women into leadership roles will only further the goals of full inclusion for the disability community,” says Director of Government Affairs, Jen Garman.

More than having women in leadership roles, we must actively amplify the voices of women with disabilities and choose to challenge society's perception of their ability to lead. “I #ChooseToChallenge.  For International Women's Day, I choose to challenge the glass ceiling for women by leading Disability Rights Pennsylvania and supporting other women on their career journey.”

Lois and Elaine’s advocacy had ripple effects for every person with a disability in the country. It is the work of these two women and tireless self-advocacy that still helps guide our mission today.

Two hands motioning

Disability Rights Pennsylvania Condemns Anti-Asian Violence

Disability Rights Pennsylvania condemns all anti-Asian violence, hate, discrimination, and intimidation. We cannot stand by silently while one part of our community is increasingly the target of hate, violence, and discrimination. The increase in hate against Asian Americans has been linked to the start of the pandemic as COVID-19 was labeled by some in xenophobic terms.

This week, 8 people, including 6 Asian women, were gunned down in a horrific act of violence in the Atlanta Metro area. The names of those lost were Soon C. Park, Hyun J. Grant, Suncha Kim, Yong A. Yue, Delaina Ashley Yaun, Paul Andre Michels, Xiaojie Tan, and Daoyou Feng. This violence spread fear and intimidation in our communities and we cannot allow it to continue. Policymakers and law enforcement must aggressively combat anti-Asian hate and discrimination, and there must be resources to respond to all acts of domestic terrorism...

Woman on laptop and text:

Each year, Disability Rights Pennsylvania reaches out to the disability community to assess the needs facing our stakeholders, partners, and fellow advocates. This year, in addition to making the survey widely accessible on our website, we are also hosting eight forums to listen to the specific needs of various groups within the disability community. We understand that the disability community is a diverse body of individuals with various needs, goals, and objectives that often go unheard in large groups. With that in mind, we have decided to host multiple listening forums for advocates to tell us what is facing their community within the disability space so that they can be in invaluable conversation with us and one another.

Our first forum is geared towards Self-Advocates and will be held on April 6th, 2021 from 7-8:30 PM. ASL and captioning services will be available. Please register using the button below and join our mailing list to stay up to date on how you can participate in future forums.

Click here for COVID-19 Vaccination Resources
Click here for resources on healthcare during covid

Disability Rights Pennsylvania
301 Chestnut Street Suite 300 | Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17101
800-692-7443 | intake@disabilityrightspa.org

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