Monday, July 16, 2012

City of Brown Bags

Every couple of weeks we break from our usual routine of running out for lunch and break out our brown bags for a healthy homemade lunch. At each brown bag session, a different department within IEL (Institute for Educational Leadership) hosts a presentation, complete with treats of course. This week however, I had not only the usual brown bag session at IEL, but also one for the Alliance for Justice on the Question of Integrity, Politics, Ethics & the Supreme Court. With two more brown bag events coming up, I am looking forward to the future networking and knowledge-building opportunities.

This week also departed from the others before it in that Thursday was the day the CRPD (Convention on the Rights for People with Disabilities) hearing was held in the Dirksen Senate Office Building. The room was already packed with people upon arrival. Many prominent figures to the ADA movement were present including Tom Harkin, Yoshiko Dart and Judy Heumann, who served as a witness. Several important political figures were also present, among them including, John Kerry, Dick Durbin, and John McCain. If the U.S. were to ratify the convention, people with disabilities will have the right to accommodations abroad. As a recent graduate whose only regret in college was not studying abroad, I felt as if my decision not to study abroad was heavily influenced by my parents’ reservations about my being able to obtain the same access there as I do here. I left this hearing early in order to guarantee that I was able to attend yet another important hearing on seclusion and restraint. This hearing was of particular interest to me with my background in psychology and history working at a treatment center, where such measures of restraint were sometimes enforced. Raising awareness of other options and behavioral analysis measures that don’t require force is essential to the rights of people with mental health/behavioral disabilities. My only hope is that we continue to see progress, however slow that progress may be…

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