Section Newsletter
Fall 2010

Chair's Report

Looking back at our accomplishments over the past two decades, we have moved from a small caucus to section status and now have a significant, substantive, formal and credible voice in APHA policy and scholarship. As such, we now are at a juncture in our development where we need to take a stand about our role and what we need to enact in order to achieve the goals of full access and inclusion not only within APHA but within the domain of public health.

A recent set of events reveals that we still have a major challenge just within APHA. First, the recently distributed emergency preparedness video by APHA was not captioned, and just yesterday, a public service announcement about the health care needs of American citizens on the Web did not meet basic 508 and WC 1, 2, and 3 access requirements. I am sure that there are many more abrogations of full access. How do we proceed as a Section? I would suggest that we are not the “access police” and should not be willing to accept or be held to that role within APHA given the small and limited scope of such activity that could keep us occupied without broadening our reach and influence beyond organizational boundaries. So how do we balance our role as a Section committed to access and participation of all citizens beyond APHA while still holding our parent organization responsible? We need a conversation, debate and an action plan. I look forward to hearing from you all and to developing a structure and set of processes to do this essential work.

Stephen Gilson


Accessibility Committee Report

The year 2010 marks the twentieth anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA is many things. First and foremost, it’s a civil rights act designed to ensure that the civil rights of Americans with disabilities are protected. In many ways, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the ADA of 1990 are bookends in the struggle for civil rights under the law for everyone.  Like the Civil Rights Act of 1964, however, the ADA is a beginning, not an end. It gives people with disabilities a powerful tool to ensure that discrimination based on disability can be challenged and overcome.

Finally, the ADA is a significant statement about the goal of inclusion for people with disabilities. Looking at disability from the perspective of the World Health Organization, which views disability as the interaction between a person’s capabilities and the physical and social environment of which he or she is a part, the ADA focuses attention not on the person, but ways to change those environments to ensure that access is seen not as a “special” need or request, but as something that is universal.

APHA is a microcosm of American society, and as such, wrestles with the same issues relative to accessibility as the rest of the nation. In the last year, the Disability Section has worked with APHA leadership on several issues that we expect will lead to greater inclusion and continue to break down barriers based on disability. The first is access to sign language interpreters for deaf and hard of hearing for conference participants. For years, sign language interpreters were automatically assigned to sessions sponsored by the Section, regardless of whether or not individuals in need of interpreting services were present.

In order to free up these valuable resources so that they could be used wherever they were needed, the Section Executive Committee voted to do away with this system and release interpreters for use throughout the conference. In addition, members of the Executive Committee offered their expertise to assist APHA in making other changes to policies regarding use of sign language interpreters at the Annual Meeting.

The Disability co-chairs of the Section also continued to work with APHA on physical accessibility at the Annual Meeting, including changes to the new section exhibition booths that will make their debut at the 2010 conference in Denver. Finally, the Section’s Executive Committee has made a major commitment to reaching out to other sections to find common ground around disability and to integrate disability issues throughout presentations at the Annual Meeting. At both the 2010 and upcoming 2011 conferences, the chair of the Disability Section invited members of the Executive Committees of other Sections to meet with the Disability Section Executive Committee to pursue this goal.

We hope to continue and expand this effort in upcoming years beyond Denver. If your section is interested in working with us to integrate disability topics throughout the organization, please contact the Disability Section chair.

Anthony Cahill, Accessibility Co-Chair  acahill@salud.unm.edu
Catherine Graham  Catherine.graham@uscmed.sc.edu

Communication Committee Report

Please make sure that you are receiving updates through the APHA Disability Section Listserv.  If you are not receiving updates, please contact Communications Chair Roberta Carlin at rcarlin@aahd.us to be added to the list. 

Please check with APHA at  http://www.apha.org/meetings/eventschedule/ for the schedule of events for the APHA Annual Meeting and for the Disability Section meetings and events in Denver.  Please be sure to attend the Disability Section Chair’s Forum on Sunday afternoon, Nov. 7, the APHA Disability Section Business Meeting on Monday evening, Nov. 8 and the sessions on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at the Denver Convention Center.  Please watch for e-mails from the Communications Committee specific to dates, times and locations for Section meetings and sessions.

Awards Committee Report

Winners of the 2010 Disability Section Awards will be honored during the Disability Section Business Meeting and Awards Ceremony in Denver  on Monday, Nov. 8 from 6:30-9:00 p.m. Nominations for the 2011 Disability Section Awards will be accepted starting in January 2011. The Disability Section accepts nominations for the following awards: Lifetime Achievement, Allan Meyers, New Investigator, and Student Member. Further details about submitting future nominations will be available in later newsletter editions. For questions about the awards please contact Awards Chair Jennifer Rowland at jenrow@uic.edu.


Jeniffer Rowland, PhD, PT, MPH

Student Committee Report

Earlier this year, the Disability Section distributed a survey to better understand the needs of members who are students and new professionals/investigators.  Thank you for the many thoughtful responses that we received.  The feedback highlighted that Disability Section membership provides good opportunities for networking with other researchers and practitioners, as well as helping to connect members with the resources needed to stay current in the field.  Based upon the responses, the Disability Section will continue to support scholarships for students to attend the Annual Meeting and host a mentoring session to facilitate networking.      

Hopefully, many of you have the opportunity to attend the Annual Meeting.  Don’t forget that you can view the program of events online at the APHA website at www.apha.org/meetings even before arriving in Denver.  This online feature allows you to easily search all of the program events by keyword or author name. 

I would also like to highlight that this year’s Disability Section mentoring session will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 9 from 6:30-8 p.m.  Willi Horner-Johnson, George Jesien, Stephen Gilson, and Gloria Krahn will join us to talk about disability policy, publishing, funding/grantwriting, and mentorship.  You are welcome to attend, even if you are no longer officially a student.  Feel free to bring friends who are interested in disability and health but are not members of the Disability Section.  

Anjali Truitt

APHA 138th APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition

From Nov. 6-10, 2010, join us in Denver for the APHA 138th Annual Meeting and Exposition. More than 1,000 cutting edge scientific sessions will be presented by public health researchers, academicians, policy-makers and practitioners on the most current public health issues facing the nation today. For more information about the Annual Meeting visit www.apha.org/meetings.

Our Section will have a strong presence at the meeting. View the sessions sponsored by our Section by visiting the interactive Online Program. Search the program using keyword, author name or date. Don’t forget to stop by our new booth in the Section and SPIG pavilion (booth 1370)  in the Public Health Expo next to "Everything APHA."