Disability History, Public Policy and Services


In this first session of DC Advocacy Partners, participants will:

  • Increase their knowledge of the history of people with disabilities;  
  • Learn about the disability rights movement in America and in Washington DC;
  • Be able to describe the history of attitudes toward people with disabilities, laws, programs, and services for people with disabilities;
  • Be able to describe the role and contributions of the parent/family movement;
  • Be able to describe the history of the self advocacy and independent living movement; and,
  • Learn and be able to describe the purpose of DC Advocacy Partners program.


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Judy HeumannDisability Rights Leader and Special Advisor, U.S. Department of StateJudith Heumann is an internationally recognized leader in the disability community and a lifelong civil rights advocate for disadvantaged people. She has been appointed Special Advisor for International Disability Rights at the U.S. Department of State. She previously served as the Director for the Department on Disability Services for the District of Columbia, where she was responsible for the Developmental Disability Administration and the Rehabilitation Services Administration. Catherine ThompsonPartners in Policymaking Graduate

Ms. Thompson is the parent of a 12 year old daughter who has an Autism Spectrum Disorder and she is a 2010 Partners in Policymaking graduate.  She worked as a graduate research assistant at George Mason University  (GMU) in special education intervention research and earned a Masters in Special Education and Autism Certificate in 2010.  She is currently enrolled in her second year in the Ph. D. in Special Education program at GMU.Tina CampanellaThe Quality Trust & Chair, DC Developmental Disabilities CouncilTina Campanella has been Executive Director of Quality Trust since it was founded in 2002. She has over 35 years of experience working with and on behalf of children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. She has directed residential and employment services and worked as an expert consultant regarding quality improvement and organizational development strategies for human service agencies throughout the US and abroad. Susan MacLeanMember, DC Developmental Disabilities CouncilSusan MacLean has many years of experience in the disability field both as an educator and the parent of a young woman who has Asperger syndrome. She currently works at the Technical Assistance Coordination Center (TACC), funded by the US Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs. Alyne EllisSelf Advocate & Radio EditorMs. Ellis is a fourth general DC resident and the parent of two sons with disabilities. She herself has been a self-advocate since elementary school. A professional in radio communications, Ms. Ellis has worked for 4 public radio stations including WAMU in DC. Currently Ms. Ellis is hosting and producing a national daily radio show for AARP called Prime Time Focus which can be heard at www.aarp.org/radio.


Disability Legislation

NCWD/Youth publication

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Rights of Individuals with Developmental Disabilities

From the California Department of Developmental Services

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Models of Disabilities

NCWD/Youth publication

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Disability Etiquette: Tips On Interacting With People With Disabilities

From the United Spinal Association

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The Washington Experience: Taxonomy Activity

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Personal Story How-to

Adapted from Family Search.org

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A primary goal of DC Advocacy Partners is to make sure you have the opportunity to learn about disability policy, effective methods of being part of the decision making process and influencing policy, and meeting others who share your interests, concerns and dedication to improving the lives of people with disabilities living in DC. Homework is part of the learning process and will help you become a more effective advocate. There are two homework assignments for session one.


Click here to see photos from this training session on our Flickr page.