We'd like to start by sharing a quick video that explains our current work.[VIDEO VOICEOVER: The World Institute on Disability, WID, advances the rights and opportunities of people with disabilities. Founded by disabled activists Judy Heumann, Ed Roberts, and Joan Leon and based in the US since 1983, WID is one of the first research and policy organizations continually led by disabled people.
Disability impacts us all - most will become disabled at some point in our lives, yet the world is not built to include us. For example, over 97% of websites aren’t accessible with assistive technology. Disabled people are up to four times more likely to die in a disaster because communities fail to plan with us. Over 25% of disabled people live in poverty, and that number is nearly double for Black disabled people. We can change this.
WID focuses on 3 of the most significant barriers facing 1.3 billion disabled people worldwide, lack of accessibility, community inclusion, and disaster resilience. We use diverse lived experiences of disabled people to research accessibility gaps to help companies, governments, organizations, and communities create inclusive solutions. We build tools, in plain language, that help people easily make informed choices about employment, housing, and healthcare. Our proven expertise in disability-inclusive climate resilience planning improves disaster outcomes for the whole community.
WID works for equity, accessibility, inclusion, rights, and justice for all. Your support will help us do more.[MARCIE ROTH]: Hello everybody. I'm Marcie Roth. I'm the Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the World Institute on Disability, also known as WID. I want to welcome you to WID's 40th anniversary. WID was founded by disabled people in 1983, and we've always been led by people with disabilities. I'm confident that we always will be. Thank you to each and every one of you for being here with us. We were very intentional in celebrating virtually. So our old and new friends, allies, colleagues, and partners, could join us. Captioning, American Sign Language, and audio description will be provided throughout the entirety of this event. This virtual event celebration will honor WID co-founders Ed Roberts, Joan Leon, and of course, Judy Heumann. It will feature special guest, Otis Rolley of Wells Fargo.
We will receive a wonderful message from one of my personal heroes, the United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres. And we will enjoy entertainment from two of my all-time favorites, recording artist, singer, and founder of RAMPD, Lachi, as well as Tony Award-winning actor
and performer, Ali Stroker. We will also hear from WID board members, many of our staff, and we'll hear highlights of our findings from our global strategic planning sessions which occurred throughout our 40th year. I'm going to begin by talking about the early days when I first learned about WID and the work of the organization. I first met Judy Heumann in 1985, at a women with disabilities conference. Judy had just founded WID two years earlier. I had no idea how pivotal that meeting was going to be for the rest of my life. Judy and I became lifelong friends, working together in many ways over the years. I got regular phone calls from Judy very early in the morning. I miss the phone calls, I miss the texts, and I really, really miss Judy. We launched our 40th year with a letter from Judy on Ed Roberts' day back in January. We had no idea we would lose Judy less than two months later, followed by Hale Zukas and Neil Jacobson, both very instrumental to WID's history, dear friends of ours, and critical contributors to the history of the disability rights movement. We remember and honor their legacies as we celebrate. I'm going to talk for a moment about my love for WID and my hopes for WID's future. And my hopes for our future as an organization are really my hopes for all people with disabilities. A future that WID and many of our friends and allies are so committed to. A future in which the leadership of people with disabilities is not only possible, but common. That our experiences as disabled people are recognized as the attributes that make for powerful change. I'd like to give a special thanks to our Presenting Sponsor and our Event Sponsors who have generously helped us to bring this event to you. Many have contributed in other ways in support of WID over the years. We are very grateful for all of them. [MARCIE ROTH]: I want to acknowledge our Presenting Sponsor Wells Fargo. Wells has supported WID for as long as I can remember, long before I came to the organization. And their continued support, not just as our Presenting Sponsor, but also in sponsoring our year-long strategic planning listening sessions with many of you from across the planet. We have also been generously supported by our Event Sponsors, including Microsoft, AT&T, Ingenovis Health, Elevance Health, T-Mobile, Bender Consulting Services, Inc. Verizon, who hosted a virtual WID celebration back in February. And I also want to thank event sponsors, Collective Speakers, for working with us to secure our fabulous entertainment. I really want to express my deepest gratitude to our amazing staff. I want you all to know that the WID team is an extraordinary group of passionate disability leaders. I also want to thank and celebrate our incredible board of directors who have helped so much with this event. First and foremost, Susan Mazrui, who is our board chairperson. We are very grateful for Susan's leadership and the leadership of Kevin Foster, our immediate past president. I also want to thank our board members who have participated throughout the year to help us to bring this celebration to you. We have been very well supported by Joyce Bender, Sarah Storelli, and Racheal Inegbedion. We must continue to strengthen our collaborations to build a better future for people with disabilities and the communities we all live, work, learn, and play in. To achieve this, we need your support more than ever. Please consider making an individual donation to WID during this celebratory milestone via our donation link. Your donation will have a tremendous impact within the communities we serve. Visit www.wid.org. You can make a donation on our website anytime. Thank you for your consideration, your vision, and your action. [ALI STROKER]: Hi everyone, I'm Ali Stroker and I'm so excited to be here today for the 40th anniversary of World Institute on Disability. Congratulations. I am a singer, an advocate, and a Tony Award-winning actress. I use a wheelchair for mobility. I was injured when I was two years old in 1989. The ADA was passed in 1990, and I'm a part of the ADA generation. What that means to me is that I understood that the world was wheelchair accessible and it was my right to get around and be a part of it. I began singing when I was seven years old and I'm so, so grateful for that introduction because it was the thing that allowed me to express myself and it was where I felt the most free. I went to NYU to study theater at Tisch School of the Arts and then when I graduated I was a very hopeful aspiring actress. And that’s when a lot of the reality hit that It was gonna be a difficult road being in a chair and wanting to be on stage and on screen. I didn't know any actresses in wheelchairs who were in musical theater. I was alone and on my own, and I always had a interesting relationship with my identity of having a disability. It was something that I wasn't always very comfortable with. And I made my Broadway debut in 2015 doing Deaf West's production of Spring Awakening. And it changed my entire life. Not long after, I was called by the show, Drunk History on Comedy Central, to be a part of an episode about the 504 sit-in. They asked me to play a disabled activist named Judy Heumann. I didn't know who Judy was at the time. I was blown away to find out what she had done, who she was, and what she was doing now. And it was a moment where I was learning about disabled history. And I'll be honest, I had never learned because it wasn't a part of my education. And I was so fired up. I was like, why did I not know about this? Why don't people know about this? And this was such an important moment before the ADA. I went out to LA, they flew me out and I'll never forget the first day putting on my Judy costume, my short brown wig and the glasses and the iconic dress suit and they even found a wheelchair that was period appropriate. And that day was so powerful being in a room with about a hundred actors in wheelchairs and reenacting the sit-in at the federal building in San Francisco. A huge part of Judy's story. And after I shot the episode, I had all these feelings about the fact that I didn't know anything about the history of my community. And I was lucky enough to be connected with Judy. And I remember when we first spoke on the phone and how electric her voice was. And she said that we must meet and she was gonna be in New York and she wanted to go to Junior's Cheesecake in Times Square. She asked me if I'd ever had an egg cream. And I was like, what? She said, I grew up on egg creams. I am a Brooklyn girl. We have to go get you an egg cream. I was like, okay! So excited and so nervous to meet her. While we were at dinner, somebody recognized me from Spring Awakening and came over and wanted a picture with me. And I saw Judy light up. She was so excited. She insisted that we get a picture. And I was like, well, do you know who this is? Do you know who Judy Heumann is? And I told them about Judy. And that was just the beginning of such a special friendship. Judy would call me all the time, always asking if I could be a part of things. And not long after our dinner, I was cast in a production of Oklahoma that went to Broadway where I played Ada Wanny and won a Tony Award for my performance. And Judy came from DC to see me. And afterwards, I remember coming out to the lobby to see her and she was all misty and she was like, you have no idea what this meant to me to see you up there. You know, I wanted to be a singer. And it was just like such a important moment for me to realize that so much of Judy's fight in her life, all of her work allowed me to be in the position that I was in. performing on Broadway, winning a Tony Award, that our lives were so linked. And not long after she came to see me do Oklahoma, she called and asked if I would voice her book that was being released called, Being Heumann. And I was so honored. I remember reading the book and just feeling so emotional, feeling excited and seen and angry about all of the things that she had to face and experience. Her childhood is something that I just immediately connected with and I felt for the first time seen. I felt like someone else has rolled this path before. Her story is a lot like mine in that she got polio when she was around two years old and she didn't feel different until the world began to tell her that she was. And I just had never had a way to articulate that. And then when I read Judy's words, I was like, that, that is it, that's how I feel. That is my truth too. And I think that's what Judy gave so many of us, that she was able to articulate and fight for the things that made our lives and our truth difficult. And being in that booth and voicing all of the stories was overwhelming to think about all of the ways in which she had to not back down and fight for what she knew was right and what she believed was possible. She then asked me to voice her children's book
that came out, Rolling Warrior, and then invited me to the Ford Foundation to have this roundtable discussion about disability in the entertainment industry. She just always was keeping me in her corner. More than anything, she was so thrilled when I called her to tell her that I was pregnant, and when I sent her the pictures of when I had my son, Jesse, this past November. Another sort of bittersweet part of Judy and my story is that after the book came out, she called me and told me that they wanted to make it into a movie. And they wanted - and she wanted me to play her. And again, I was just so honored and humbled to take on this role and play her. And so that movie was announced. And I know it was something she was so excited about and I really wanted to see her - I really wanted her to see that come to life. But I know when we make the movie that she will be there with us in spirit every single step of the way. She and I spoke about it a lot. And I miss her every day. And I also feel her energy and her power and her leadership in me, that she gave to me, and I just wanted to finish this by singing a song that I feel like really represents Judy and how she always made me feel. This is True Colors. [ALI SINGING]: You with the sad eyes, don't be discouraged, oh I realize it's hard to take courage, in a world
full of people you can lose sight of it all in the darkness inside you, makes you feel so
small, and I see your true colors shining through. I see your true colors. That's why I love you.
So don't be afraid to let them show, your true colors. True colors are beautiful like a rainbow.
Show me a smile then. Don't be unhappy. Can't remember when I last saw you laughing. If this
world makes you crazy and you've taken all that you can bear, you call me up, cuz you know
I'll be there. And I see your true colors shining through. I see your true colors. That's why
I love you, so don't be afraid to let them show, your true colors. True colors are beautiful like a rainbow.
Thank you all so much.[SUSAN MAZRUI]: When I reflect back on the 40 years of the World Institute on Disability, I am amazed at how far we've come with having a disability-led organization and how far we still need to go. I first became engaged with the World Institute on Disability when I was in college and had an opportunity to understand the importance of research, the importance of involvement, and most importantly how we needed to have movement forward around disability led by people with disabilities. As a member of a company, of AT&T, I saw the value of working directly with the World Institute on Disability to help us become a more inclusive organization, to push our opportunities of communication forward so that they help build bridges rather than unintentionally isolate folks. So I knew that moving forward with communications needed
to have the involvement of people with disabilities, because without that, people would be unintentionally excluded. So the resources, the expertise, the community connections were all incredibly valuable to us as a company and just as they are valuable to us as a society. And that as a leader, WID has had the opportunity to show not only a way forward that's reflected by the needs of various communities around the world, but says we needed to be listened to as people with disabilities and we need to provide the direction. AT&T has benefited from our relationship with WID over many decades. We learn from the community, the needs of the community, and more than that, as a business, it helped us understand where we needed to go to make sure that we were being inclusive. Our goal is to connect people everywhere, to provide greater communication and belonging. And we needed that expertise from WID. And we still do, to help understand the work that we do and how it can be used for the greater good. In the next 10 years and beyond, the World Institute on Disability needs to work with communities across the world to ensure that economic opportunities, social justice, all the barriers that we face with a disability are removed and that we are able to express ourselves as part of our communities that we belong to, not just as a person with a disability, but as a person with a disability who has multiple identities and connections and communities. [Kamilah Martin-Proctor]: My experiences with WID, coming in, essentially, as a community advocate, somewhat of an educational ambassador, starting out in that vein, and really getting to know what WID was doing and what they were about. I came in to help have WID at the Congressional Black Caucus and at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and just trying to spread the message of disability and diversity across realms and internationally, and WID was the perfect place to do that. My experience on the board working with these amazing champions of accessibility and inclusion has been wonderful. I have learned so much. I have gained so much. I can ask questions. We can come together. We can have debates. And it's just a really good board to be a part of. Where we are now is a good space. We recognize the gaps. We are growing to address those gaps. And we're definitely trying to make sure that we're more inclusive with regards to individuals with chronic conditions and making sure that we're having all voices at the table, including youth. And WID has been so open with regards to me bringing those suggestions to the table. For the 40th anniversary of WID, I just have one message, honestly. As we move forward into the next 40, let’s make sure we go forward with no fear, quoting Nina Simone. Let's make sure we move forward looking for the most and the best equitable and inclusive access possible. Let's not get hung up on any kind of roadblocks because individuals with disabilities or chronic conditions, we've learned how to life hack all the way around. So I want us all to move forward in that vein and with our most creative and innovative hats on because the world is changing. We need to start thinking more broadly. It's not so separated and siloed. That's what I love about WID. They don't do silos. Come sit at the table, come join us. Have a voice. [United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres]: There are more than one billion people with disabilities in the world. Utilizing their rights is a matter of justice and an investment in our common future. It is also central to realizing the core promise of the 2030 Agenda, to leave no one behind. The United Nations' Disability Inclusion Strategy is my commitment to achieving transformative change, to raise the UN's performance on disability inclusion, not just in its policy, but also in its programs and operations. Our destination is clear. A world in which all people, including people with disabilities, can enjoy equal opportunities, have a full say in decision-making processes, and truly benefit from economic, social, political and cultural life. Every person should expect nothing less. Together with people with disabilities as agents of change, we can build an inclusive, accessible and sustainable world for all. Thank you. [António Guterres]: Message to the 40th anniversary of the World Institute on Disability, 7th of November, 2023. I am pleased to join in congratulating the World Institute on Disability on your 40th anniversary and to pay tribute to your late co-founder, Judy Heumann, for her invaluable contributions to the global disability rights movement. Over the past four decades, you've played a pivotal role in advancing the rights of persons with disabilities through research, advocacy, and capacity building. And over the years, we have witnessed real and meaningful progress. At the same time, persons with disabilities are disproportionately impacted by a cascade of crises confronting our world. From conflicts and climate chaos to widening inequalities and growing poverty, persons with disabilities are often hit first and worst. We must collectively do more to realize the rights of persons with disabilities everywhere. The cornerstone of this vital effort must be the active participation of persons with disabilities in their full diversity and their full inclusion in decision-making processes. I look forward to continuing to work together as we strive towards a more just and inclusive future for all. Thank you. [JOAN LEON]: Hi, my name is Joan Leon, and I have been involved in the disability movement for I would say 50 years, about. I have a hidden disability, which surprisingly enough, I never acknowledged in all the years I was actually working at WID or CIL because it just didn't seem serious enough. And I'm 85. I'm still quite active in the disability community. And I am on the board of the Center for Independent Living.
I met Ed Roberts in 1973 and then Judy in, I would say, 1974. I've never met people who were so full of joy and hardworking and really, really positive. And I just loved the environment and realized and felt right away that I belonged there even though I had never thought of myself as having a disability. And so that's really a very important part of my life and working with and joining with Ed and Judy at CIL, moving on to the World Institute on Disability. But a neighbor introduced me to Ed, and she said that he was with this young organization, and they needed to write, they were trying to write a proposal to the San Francisco Foundation, and they weren't getting anywhere, and so they wanted some help with somebody. I like fundraising. I like talking about why a project, a worthy project should get the money. And so I went over to see it and I did that. And it just took maybe an hour for me to realize that I was hearing about the best project I'd ever come upon and asked to raise money for. And so I offered to do the proposal. That worked out so well that Ed asked me if I would write a brochure for CIL. And I said, yes, but you need to pay me something. And so then that's when I started working. And I worked with Ed for 22 years. And most of that time, he and I worked as a team to raise money and develop program. At CIL, I was doing the fundraising and then Judy came aboard. And then Ed was appointed the Director of Rehab for California, Jerry Brown did that. Within a year of that, he called me and said, you know, you need to come to Sacramento and work with me can't seem to get it all done without your kind of help. And I was in Sacramento and worked on the renewal of the 73 Rehab Act and the development of independent living centers in the state. We decided that we absolutely had to have Judy come join us because we needed her help, because there was so much that needed to be done and it was certainly not easy to convince people in Washington about how money was needed for disability programs like CIL. And Judy and I began to carpool together for a year. And we spent a wonderful year working together, fighting every way up from Berkeley to Sacramento and back because we both had to agree on what we thought was the best approach and how to do it. And it was really a beautiful shared effort on our part. And we got along very, very well. And then as the Jerry Brown administration was closing down, we were talking with Ed about what in the world all of us were going to do because we were all appointees of the state. We talked about it, and we decided that what we wanted to do was to form a nonprofit that would carry the independent living movements, the ILC concept, nationally and internationally. And Ed, [what] he wanted to do was eradicate polio around the world. And Judy, of course, had 101 ideas of the things that she wanted to raise money to do. I was the one that wanted to do the research that I thought that was such a barrier to us at the moment. We were finding that we couldn't convince people in Congress about the virtues of the programs we were proposing, like home care that the government would fund and better changes in benefits for disabled people and stuff like that, because there was no research. And so we decided we wanted to have a research arm in this organization. Judy and I spent a couple of months writing the... some proposals for the formation of an institute where the three of us would work collaboratively and we would take on these projects. And we decided to focus on just a few projects. And one was attendant services, one was seniors and disabilities. Of course, and a big one was international spread of the movement and then the development of ILCs. We found out that two of the proposals we had submitted had come in and we had enough money that we had to open the World Institute on Disability. Our early board of all disability leaders and influencers in the movement, they said, take the word world out, it's just simply too pretentious, it's too much of a goal, but we refused. And it was a good thing we did, as I can see today, of course. We were determined that we wanted mostly disabled people to work in the organization, because we wanted disabled people to be the ones who were asking the questions that would provide the research answers that would help us raise the money. We went to a lot of trouble to do focused recruitment to find disabled people with degrees all over the country because all the research required PhDs. We grew very quickly, and it was a very good time. Oh, Ed had just gotten a MacArthur Fellowship, which was really spectacular. And there was a new awareness of disability and the need for accessible design and civil rights and rights of people with disabilities. And especially since we'd already been doing the research, so we had a good handle on what the issues were. We were able to get a number of good three-year federal grants that gave us enough time to actually get something done. And we began to build connections with the University of California, Berkeley, and other schools, and that also helped us. So we became more and more legitimate, really. Whereas we started out, people just laughed, you know, what's this? You know. Ninety percent of it was grants that had to be renewed every year or had to be, or we had to, you know, reapply or we had to replace with other new grants. It was never any solid money. That's what I wound up spending most of my time doing was doing the proposals or working with staff to do the proposals. And then Judy was, appointed to the Assistant Secretary of Education. It was really a marvelous result, and we all celebrated her leaving, but it seemed that it would be all right if Judy left because she'd be going to Washington to be doing things that were so close to what we were doing. And we never gave any thought to succession. We were an organization of three people. We saw ourselves as equal, but Ed was unequal in that he was notorious as a result of the MacArthur. And so he was the president, and Judy and I were the co-directors. And then when Judy left, I took over as the director with Ed as the president. And we continued that way for a couple of years, and then Ed suddenly died. That was really a shock. And I was perceived as a non-disabled person and not as a very public person. I didn't speak. I'm terribly shy when it comes to public speaking, and I don't do that. The board felt that it would have to find a president that was someone
with a disability, and I was in favor of that, and I was going to stay, I was planning to stay on and do the fundraising. But then I got involved, I was approached by the city of Berkeley about doing some kind of a memorial for Ed. And the city council was thinking of naming a street after him. They also suggested a stamp. And so I asked them if we could meet with city council and talk about it, and if we could involve the other organizations that had grown up outside of CIL and as part of CIL, and that we were all located in Berkeley and that we were all very close collaborators with, if they could also come. With the idea that Ed’s MacArthur was really an award to all of us because we were all there with him working so hard and we were all helping make it succeed. As a group, we started to talk about what we wanted, what the disability movement wanted in Ed's name. What we all wanted was we all really wished we had the wherewithal to have some kind of permanent home. And we wanted a building that would be ours and that where we'd have some financial security and where that we could work together.
I left WID and took the role of the director of fundraising for the Ed Roberts campus. It took about 12 years for me to raise, me and others to raise the money. And it cost an enormous amount of money, more than we had anticipated. We started out looking for 10 million, and then we came through with 60. Once they were building, and we were no longer raising foundation money, I began to do consulting work. And that's when I started to consult. I consulted with WID and consulted with CIL and a number of other disability organizations. And I continued to do that until... you know, a short while ago.
I met Marcie when she was being considered for the role, and I was just delighted. I'm very, very pleased with the transition to Marcie, and with WID's work today. I'm excited at this possibility that WID will become more involved in aging and disability and in... and some of the other topics that I have long wanted us to, you know, to do more work in. But I'm very pleased that we're doing this emergency preparedness around the world. It's really important work, and I really welcome it. And I like the emphasis today on inclusivity. I consider myself very fortunate to have been there at the right time, and to have met Ed and to have met Judy, and it transformed my life, you know. It gave me something that was equally important. - I was very interested in the arts, but I was not an artist. And, but I am a fundraiser. I am a disability activist, and I found that was what I liked to do. You know, so, and I think I'll do it for the rest of my life, yeah.[LACHI]: Hey y'all, it is Lachi, she/her, and I'm a Black woman with cornrows. And I am so grateful to the World Institute on Disability for having me. And congrats to the WID for 40 years breaking down barriers, independent living for people with disabilities. I know that Judy Heumann was a co-founder and she was a disability rights icon and also just a really dear friend. One of the things she really taught us was to be loud and proud about our disability and to just say the word. So the song I would love to perform for you tonight and to dedicate to Judy Heumann is a song I'm calling Say The Word. Again, congratulations on 40 years to the WID. I hope you enjoy this song. Lachi out. [LACHI, SINGING]: Could you turn the volume up a little bit?
I'm having trouble hearing what you're saying.
I'm on my way to crack the code and figure all this out.
Are we in love or stuck in games you're playing
Am I the only one who seems to have noticed The cat has got your tongue when saying my name
Oh look, he's gotta run, what's making you nervous You act like this is love
But if you were in love,
Then you could say the words Cause if you were in love
Cause if you were in love Then you could say the words
Cause if you were in love Then you could say the words
At times I feel as if I'm ill equipped And I could use a littlе reassurance
It's not like I'm'a fall apart bеcause you can't speak up But I can't base my love on mere inference
Because you can't speak up, But I can't base my love on mere inference.
Am I the only one who seems to have noticed the cat has got your tongue when saying my name,
oh look, he's gotta run, what's making you nervous?
You act like this is love. But if you were in love,
Then you could say the words But if you were in love
Then you could say the words. And if you were in love
And you could say that I... And if you were in love, then you could say the word.
(L) Loud and clear. Am not afraid if the world can hear me
(O) Obviously it's me for you and you for me
(V) Very very loyal and that's voluntary
(E) And everyday I want to yell it from the rooftops
You can say the word, say the word
[vocalizing] If you were, if you were in love
If you were, if you were in love
Say the word [OTIS ROLLEY]: I'm Otis Rolley, President of the Wells Fargo Foundation.
It's good to be with you as a long time ally and presenting sponsor of World Institute on Disability’s 40th anniversary. At Wells Fargo, we applaud the work of WID because it aligns with our own core values around inclusion and equitable access. At the bank, we have 17,000 employees who self-identify as having disability, and our employee resource network, called Disability Connection, is one of our most active with nearly 10,000 members. We're committed to advancing equity, including for those from historically marginalized communities. But we live in challenging times. In today's divided world, we need steady voices we can rely on for leadership. WID has been that trusted advocate for people with disabilities for four decades, challenging society to be more inclusive in fighting for policies that move people forward. As a disability-led organization for 40 years, prioritizing accessibility and equity is central to WID's work in corporate and government systems. That's why I'm proud that Wells Fargo's latest $200,000 grant to WID has focused on facilitating strategic planning sessions for the future with leaders and allies. Importantly, this plan and work charts a course for how the public and private sectors can work better together. Our support also helped launch WID's new Global Heumann Fellowship in honor of WID co-founder Judy Heumann's legacy by supporting disability leaders and advocates from around the world to work on projects that promote disability
rights and disability justice. I'm a big believer in leading with intentionality, and that is what WID is doing, taking the time to thoughtfully design the next decade of change, even as it celebrates 40 years of progress. Let's all join in and be part of the change that we want to see. [HEATHER DUNCAN]: Hi, I'm Heather Duncan, Strategy Manager and Board Liaison.
At WID, we understand the importance of continuing to evolve to meet the current and future needs of people with disabilities and society at large. WID launched a series of virtual one hour global strategic planning
sessions to listen, learn, and gather insight from disability leaders, our colleagues, funders, advocates, policymakers, business leaders, partners, allies, and supporters. The ultimate purpose of these sessions was to help WID develop strategic planning decisions that will impact our focus and resources over the next 10 years and beyond. Our global community's input on the critical issues affecting people with disabilities and disability-led organizations, and what your vision is regarding disability equity during the next decade is vital to our continued progress regarding the rights and opportunities of more than one billion people with disabilities around the globe. We started this process by issuing a call for participants via our social media channels, website, and newsletter. Those interested filled out our online survey. Of those who completed the survey, 78% identified as a person with disabilities. And the majority of the folks in each session were people with disabilities. I wanted to share this so it is clear that WID has made it a point to ensure that these sessions centered voices from the disability community.
WID hosted 15 separate hour-long planning sessions with individuals spanning five continents. In those sessions, our teams diligently took notes from each of our participants on these four key questions. The first, which of these is a major priority for you? Accessibility, disability equity, inclusion, disability rights, or disability justice. Question number two, and in which of those areas do you feel there has been the most progress? Question number three, what do you feel are the biggest difficulties or gaps in the areas of accessibility, equity, inclusion, disability rights, and disability justice? And finally, number four, if you had a magic wand that would make your ideas a reality, what solutions would you recommend so that we could achieve complete societal equity. We found that 43% of our focus group participants had recommendations for more work to be done in accelerating inclusion. While 50% saw accessibility as their top priority, only 14% saw inclusion as their top priority. From the data and the comments we gathered, it suggests that accessibility and inclusion are intertwined. Better access leads to more inclusion. While 35% agreed that's where the disability community has seen the most improvement in inclusion, 29% pointed out significant gaps in inclusion. With regards to the aging population, disaster policy, employment, and for those with hidden disabilities. Comments around employment pointed out the continued wage and promotion gap for people with disabilities, along with ensuring that people with disabilities feel valued in the workplace. It was also mentioned more than once that people with invisible disabilities are still not taken as seriously by the disability community. One person noted that for the aging population, there is an overall dismissal of them as a market sector by tech companies and even advocacy groups that are supposed to represent this population. Inclusion is an area that WID will continue leading a global effort to eliminate barriers and advance policies that prioritize accessibility, making inclusion possible. 19% of those interviewed noted that while laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act were passed, there is still a need to go further with these policies and to hold people accountable for more than just the bare minimum. One person said, accountability talk is cheap. A place at the table is good, but in their experience, we are still an afterthought in these meetings. Stakeholders don't listen. They just say thank you, check the box, and then do what they want to do in the first place. There's other legislation to be passed and systems to be changed to further inclusion and accessibility to the entire disability community. Several people mentioned that the
READI Act still needs to be passed, that it will go a long way towards improving the disaster cycle experiences of disabled people, including awareness of inclusive readiness and recovery needs. It was pointed out that people with access and functional needs are four to ten times more likely to be injured or die in disasters. This is considered an area that is ripe for change. Our participants also expressed a need for the entire disability community to continue to support and grow the space of disability justice. One participant pointed out that issues in the disability community are cross-cutting issues. If we help LGBT people, we're helping our people. If we help people of color, we're helping our people. Another participant reminded us that we need to keep talking to each other because we've only scratched the surface on justice and inequity. It was also noted that relying on our rights alone is not enough. The Disability Justice framework still needs to be implemented. And as one person pointed out, there is still so many people excluded on the basis of gender, race, and class, and these are inextricably linked and cannot be separated. There was also a call for change in attitude. One person said, changing people's attitudes about disability. As long as people think disabled people are less than, nothing will change. We pass laws, but we don't change people's attitudes. It was also pointed out that there are more disabled people incarcerated than non-disabled people. Many of the people concerned about disability justice raised the issue of police violence. Many high profile police-caused deaths are people with disabilities. And this happens frequently to people with intellectual disabilities and Black disabled people. Several people mentioned the passing of ADA, and one person noted that when the ADA was passed, the responsibility was placed on the people with disabilities to fix society. A major theme weaving through all of the data is collaboration along with awareness. Whether it is collaboration needed within the disability community or between DPOs and corporations, the government and disabled persons, or emergency responders and the disability community. 20% of participants felt that there was a need to work on awareness throughout the disability community. The disability community is fragmented. The first gap to solve is the internal gap of the disability community's division. The disability community is divided by diagnosis, kind of impairment, and kind of accommodation and wealth. There is an internal struggle amongst the disability community, a need for more unity. As one person noted, as a physically disabled white person, they may not know the experiences of a Black autistic person.
Bringing awareness to the specific needs and support required by different disabilities is one way to bring together the community. There is a want and a need to work together across the full spectrum of identities and the range of privilege, marginalization, and oppression that impact how disabled people are treated. WID is proud to be in a position of trust and to listen to disability leaders, our colleagues, funders, advocates, policy makers, business leaders, partners, allies, and supporters to take those recommendations and priorities from thoughts and ideas into actions and change. As we build the future of WID, we will continue to use this data to inform WID's strategy. Thank you to everyone who participated. We will keep you updated on the tangible impact of your contributions to this collective vision of progress that WID can lead over the next decade.[KAT ZIGMONT]: Hi everyone, I'm Kat Zigmont, WID's Deputy Director. It's my great honor to talk about WID's Global Heumann Fellowship Program today. We all experienced a significant loss of Judy Heumann this year. Judy was very special to WID as one of our founders, and we wanted to find a way to honor her and continue the visionary advocacy she valued and embodied throughout her lifetime. The Global Heumann Fellowship Program will honor and grow Judy's legacy by supporting disability leaders and advocates worldwide to work on projects that advance disability rights and disability justice in their country and regions as a bridge to an equitable, inclusive, and just world. Through their 12-month fellowship term, the fellows will be engaged in a unique combination of opportunities for global thought leadership on national and foreign policy, research strategies, advocacy, program development, and contributions to initiatives that further the rights of all persons with disabilities. Fellows will conduct research and write a white paper that WID will publish and share with our network. Celebrating WID’s rich history of supporting innovative disabled researchers around the world, our team is excited to support our fellows and their visionary ideas. With that, I would like to announce that the Global Heumann Fellowship’s inaugural cohort applications are now open! You can find a link to more information on the application in the event chat. This link is also available on our accessible website at WID.org. Please apply and spread the word. We look forward to marching forth on this endeavor to create those connections and build disability leadership around the world, just as Judy did. Thanks so much and onto the rest of the show. [CARMEN DANIELS JONES]: Hi. I hope you all have enjoyed WID's 40th virtual anniversary celebration. Thank you for taking time out of your day to be here to celebrate with us. I'm Carmen Daniels-Jones, proud member of the WID Board of Directors. I became aware of the need of people with disabilities when I participated on a mission to deliver wheelchairs in South America. It became clear to me that the needs of our community are not proactively met and it's reliant upon a collaborative effort that includes the government within that country, stakeholders and leaders, faith communities, families, and academia to develop and implement solutions. In the future, I'd love for WID to play a greater leadership role as a convener to ensure that other countries learn and apply what we've done well in the United States and empower those countries to be supported to move forward. I would like to close our event by thanking all of you for joining us in our celebration. Additionally, I want to thank all of our sponsors for making this event possible. It's an extraordinary feat for an organization to reach this significant milestone. And I'm really proud to be a part of WID's legacy and look forward to many more years of advancing the rights and opportunities of more than 1.3 billion people worldwide. Thank you once again for joining us. Please stay involved and guide us about what's most important to you as we take strategic steps forward towards our 10 year goals and our 50th anniversary in 2033. Have a great day, or night!