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Section Newsletter
Fall 2009

Nothing About Us Without Us – What the New Leadership at CDC Needs to Hear

Hot off the desk from the new director of CDC, Dr. Tom Frieden, are his five priority areas for the next four to eight years under the Obama administration.  Each of Dr. Frieden’s priorities has an element of “Nothing About Us Without Us.”  Let’s take them one at a time.  

  1. Improve Support to States and Localities.  We currently have only 16 out of 50 states that have a CDC-funded disability and health program. In any future initiative by CDC to get states and cities more appropriations for public health, let’s not forget that disability is a broad public health issue that needs representation in the remaining 34 states, who at the present time have little to no incentive to start new programs given the massive budget cuts and layoffs that most state health departments are experiencing.
  2. Strengthen Surveillance and Epidemiology. This is another hot-button issue in the disability field. We need more comprehensive surveillance systems that provide a broader understanding of the ‘sub-layers’ of health needs among children and adults with disabilities. New funding streams are driven by data, and good data sets require strong surveillance systems and sound epidemiology.
  3. Focus on Global Health. While we still have a long way to go in improving the health of our own nation’s citizens with disabilities, we have much longer trajectories in reaching the international community of people with disabilities. In many developing nations, people with disabilities are still marginalized and left to fend for themselves with little or no support from their government.  The social determinants of health – housing, employment, education, and health care – are all much worse among people with disabilities than virtually any other group in their society. 
  4. Improve Policy Effectiveness.  Dr. Frieden is a ‘big picture’ leader.  As the former New York City health commissioner, he led the charge in banning smoking in restaurants and bars, banning trans-fats from restaurants, and requiring certain restaurants to post calorie information in prominent locations.  He is definitely interested in lowering the rate of smoking in this nation and reducing the obesity epidemic by encouraging more physical activity and better nutrition. Dr. Frieden needs to be informed that people with disabilities have much higher rates of both – smoking and obesity – and any campaign to reduce these health risks should include representation from key members of the disability community.
  5. Support Health Care Reform.  Dr. Frieden will likely focus some, if not most, of his attention on ‘prevention’ as his front-line attack in the health care reform debate. When Congress returns from the summer break, we need to make sure that the interests and needs of people with disabilities are represented, including turnkey issues such as removal of barriers to health care access, supporting community-based living vs. institutional care, and ensuring that insurance companies do not discriminate against people with disabilities because of a ‘pre-existing’ condition, ie., disability.  Dr. Frieden should know that access to healthy foods, fitness centers, medical facilities and the environment is a continuing problem in the disability community and should be a major priority in his policy-setting initiatives. Without access to good health, there is no health.

This is the perfect time for our new CDC director to recognize that there is a community of citizens that has been marginalized and underrepresented in the public health arena for many decades. The “Nothing About Us Without Us” mantra that has transformed the disability community into a force in its own right needs greater representation in public health from the top down.   

Accessibility Committee Report

The time is drawing near!  The AnnualMeeting in Philadelphia is just several weeks away now.  APHA's continued commitment to accessible meetings will culminate in a free accessibility training to heighten awareness and educate hotel and convention center staff on disability and accessibility issues prior to the arrival of APHA attendees.   Accessibility Co-Chair Catherine Leigh Graham will be conducting the two-hour training session twice at the Convention Center on Nov. 6.  Effective ways to communicate with and assist a person with a disability will be covered, with emphasis placed on the preferred language of the disability community and general etiquette issues. 

The Accessibility Booth is also getting geared up.  This booth will be in the main registration area and will be staffed by convention center staff as well as local people with disabilities.  We hope that all of your accessibility questions can be answered at this one stop shop.

The Physical Activity SPIG has tentatively planned a fun run/walk for Tuesday morning, Nov. 10.  The Disability Section strongly supports the physical activity aspect of life for everyone, including those with disabilities.  We are working with this SPIG to try to ensure that the run/walk route is accessible and strongly encourage everyone participating.

We look forward to seeing you in Philadelphia!

Chair's Forum-2009 APHA Meeting

This year, the Disability Section has decided to conduct the Chair’s Forum as a venue for sharing scholarship and criticism for new ideas in progress about disability and public health. Building on a structure instituted by Dr. Renee Jahiel, presenters will share developing concepts, theories and research and receive critical commentary from audience participants. This forum brings the intellectual power of dialog and exchange to the advancement of progressive scholarship and informed practice in public health. The forum will be held Sunday, Nov. 8 from 1-4:30 p.m., and all members of the Disability Section are encouraged to attend. 


If you have any questions about the Chair’s Forum, please contact Dr. Stephen Gilson at  or at (207) 581-1263.


Communications Committee Report

The APHA Disability Section listserv continues to be a valuable resource to Section members for contemporary programmatic, research and policy updates.  Please continue to forward to  Communications Chair Roberta Carlin at   items to be distributed through the Disability Section listserv.  If you have items that you would like to submit for the Disability Section newsletter, please send to Roberta Carlin. 

The listserv will be sending out frequent e-mails about the APHA Annual Meeting in November, so please read them carefully so you do not miss any important announcements.  To learn more about the APHA Annual Meeting and details concerning accessibility, program, housing and schedules this fall, please go to

You can read the minutes of the APHA Disability Section meeting on the APHA Disability Section Web site in the Leadership Link.

Please continue to support the Disability and Health Journal and the American Association on Health and Disability (AAHD), which provides a substantial discount to APHA members for  the Disability and Health Journal.

Policy Committee Report

The Policy Committee has continued to work with the APHA Policy office to assure our voice is heard so that health reform addresses the needs of individuals with disabilities. After we alerted the APHA office to the pending legislation H.R. 3101, the Twenty-F irst Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2009, Dr. Benjamin wrote a letter to the members of the House of Representative to urge support of the bill.   H.R. 3101 will ensure that people with disabilities, who have historically faced barriers to accessing health and other resources, have access to Internet based telecommunications and video programming technologies. These technologies provide critical public health and health care health resources, including information on living healthfully, preventing disease, responding to health emergencies and connecting with mentors and experts in times of health diagnostic episodes. They also provide resources for obtaining an education, employment, housing, transportation, and other social resources that are critical for an improved quality of life. Specifically, H.R. 3101 would:


·         Require that mobile and other Internetbased telecommunications devices and equipment be fully hearing aid compatible, have accessible user interfaces, and offer people with disabilities use of a full range of text messaging and other popular services that are currently largely inaccessible;

·         Provide people who are deafblind with vital but costly technologies they need to communicate electronically;

·         Establish a process and time table for the provision of realtime text capability;

·         Clarify existing relaytorelay, Lifeline and Linkup service requirements to ensure their relevance to the real world communications needs of people with disabilities;

·         Restore the Federal Communications Commissionʹs (FCC) modest video description rules and unambiguously establish the FCCʹs current and ongoing authority to expand such regulations;

·         Require emergency announcements and similar information to be accessible to people with disabilities through audible presentation of onscreen alerts;

·         Ensure that video programming offered via the Internet will be both captioned and described;

·         Call for all devices that receive and playback video programming to employ accessible user interfaces and allow ready access to captioning and description;

·         Strengthen consumersʹ ability to enforce their rights to communications and video accessibility through the establishment of a clearinghouse of information about service and equipment accessibility and usability, a meaningful FCC complaint process that holds industry accountable for their accessibility obligations, and judicial review of FCC action to ensure FCC accountability.


Please support the Policy Committee by letting us know of pending legislation you think needs support AND contacting your congressional representatives to support important disability related bills.

Program Committee Report

The APHA 137th Annual Meeting and Exposition will take place in Philadelphia at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, Nov. 7-11, 2009. The Disability Section has an exciting program containing 48 oral papers and 30 state-of-the-science poster presentations on key topics related to the built environment, epidemiology, policy and health promotion, among others. Join us this year for an exciting conference and share in the wonderful interaction and dialogue with public health colleagues who have an interest in disability.  You can view the Disability Section Program at .


Please  mark your calendars for these additional events planned for the meeting.  On Sunday evening, Nov. 7, the APHA Disability Section will be sponsoring the Chairs Forum from 1:00 p.m.-4:30 p.m. in the Philadelphia Convention Center (please watch the Disability Section listserv for specific room).  On Monday, Nov. 8, 2009, the Disability Section Business Meeting and Reception will take place at 6:00 p.m. at the Philadelphia Convention Center in Room 204A.

Please  watch your e-mails from the APHA Disability Section for updates on the meeting in November.

Student Committee Report

The return to school means the Annual Meeting will soon be approaching.  The Annual Meeting offers many great opportunities for students to get more involved with other students and public health professionals.  For those student members who are planning to attend, there are opportunities to volunteer both with the Disability Section and with the Meeting in general.  You also might consider attending the 5th Annual Student Assembly Meeting.  This year’s theme is “Looking Back, Moving Forward:  Transforming the US Health Care System and will be held on Saturday, Nov. 7 from 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. 

Whether you are able to attend this year’s Meeting or not, please stay up-to-date by checking out APHA on Facebook.  This is not only a great networking tool, but also a good resource for policy updates.  There are links to the Annual Meeting Schedule-at-a-Glance and Take Action APHA legislative policy alerts, as well as upcoming APHA Student Assembly events.

Student members with disabilities who are majoring in public health, health promotion, disability studies, disability research, or a related field may be interested in applying for the American Association on Health and Disability (AAHD) Scholarship Program. For more information on the scholarship and application instructions, visit the AAHD Web site ( and follow the “scholarship program” link.

If you have questions or want more information about specific opportunities at the Annual Meeting, please don’t hesitate to e-mail Anjali Truitt, Student Liaison, at

Membership Committee Report

Please visit our Membership Booth at the Annual Meeting and learn about opportunities to become more involved in the Disability Section.

News From APHA

APHA Career Guidance Center
Don't miss this opportunity! Sign up now for a one-on-one or a group session with a professional career coach at APHA Annual Meeting & Exposition. These coaches can guide you in strategizing the next phase of your career and help you define your goals. Select a 45-minute individual session or a 90-minute group session. The group sessions are designed according to your career needs. To see which session is best for you, please read about each coach's experience and education before setting an appointment. If you have never experienced coaching before, this is a wonderful introduction to what may become a useful service for your career! 

This is the link to the Career Guidance Center:



APHA Press

APHA Press has three books in production of interest to epidemiologists and other health professionals that will be available at the Annual Meeting.  They include: Chronic Disease Epidemiology and Control, 3rd edition by Patrick Remington, Ross Brownson and Mark Wegner and two books by Steven S. Coughlin, Ethics in Epidemiology and Public Health Practice, 2nd edition and Case Studies in Public Health Ethics, 2nd edition.