Section Newsletter
Winter 2008

APHA Disability Section Executive Committee


James H. Rimmer, PhD

Professor, Department of Disability and Human Development (M/C 626)

University of Illinois at Chicago

1640 West Roosevelt Rd.

Chicago, IL  60608-6904

Phone: (312) 413-9651

Mobile Phone: (312) 752-0900

Fax: (312) 355-4058

E-Mail: jrimmer@uic.edu



Gloria L. Krahn, PhD, MPH
Director, Oregon Institute on Disability & Development
Child Development and Rehabilitation Center

Oregon Health & Science University

P.O. Box 574

Portland, OR  97207-0574

Phone: (503) 494-8364

Fax:  (503) 494-6868

E-Mail:  Krahng@ohsu.edu



Jennifer Rowland, PhD, MPH, PT

Assistant Professor

Department of Disability and Human Development (M/C 626)

University of Illinois at Chicago

1640 West Roosevelt Rd.

Chicago, IL  60608-6904

Mobile Phone: (312) 714-0830

Fax: (312) 355-4058

E-Mail: jenrow@uic.edu


Program Chair

David B. Gray, PhD

Associate Professor of Neurology and

Associate Professor of Occupational Therapy

Program in Occupational Therapy

Washington University School of Medicine

Campus Box 8505

4444 Forest Park

St. Louis, MO 63108

Phone: (314) 286-1658

Fax: (314) 286-1601

E-Mail: grayda@wustl.edu

Program Chair-Elect

H. Stephen Kaye, PhD

Associate Adjunct Professor

Institute for Health & Aging

University of California, San Francisco

3333 California Street, Suite 340

San Francisco, CA 94118

Phone: (415) 502-7266

Fax: (415) 502-5208

E-Mail: steve.kaye@ucsf.edu


Communications Chair

Roberta S. Carlin, MS, JD
Executive Director
American Association on Health & Disability
110 N. Washington Street, Suite 340-A
Rockville, MD 20850
Phone: (301) 545-6140-ext. 206
Fax: (301) 545-6144
E-mail: rcarlin@aahd.us


Membership Chair

George Jesien, PhD

Executive Director

Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD)

1010 Wayne Avenue, Suite 920

Silver Spring, MD 20910

Phone: (301) 588-8252 x 207

Fax: (301) 588-2842

E-mail: gjesien@aucd.org


Policy Chair
Suzanne McDermott, PhD

Professor, Department of Family and Preventive Medicine

University of South Carolina

School of Medicine

3209 Colonial Drive

Columbia, SC 29203

Phone: (803) 434-2445

Fax: (803) 434-8374

E-Mail: Suzanne.mcdermott@palmettohealth.org


Awards Chair

Dorothy E. Nary, MA

Gerontology Center

University of Kansas
1000 Sunnyside Avenue, Dole 3090
Lawrence, KS 66045
Phone: (785) 864-1318

Fax: (785) 864-1326



Willi Horner-Johnson, PhD

Research Assistant Professor

Child Development & Rehabilitation Center

Oregon Health & Science University

Mail Stop CDRC 1270B

P.O. Box 574

Portland, OR 97207-9946
Phone: (503) 494-9273
Fax: (503) 494-6868
E-mail: hornerjo@ohsu.edu


Accessibility Co-Chairs

Gwyn C. Jones, PhD
Health Scientist
National Center
on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1600 Clifton Road, Mail Stop E88
Atlanta, GA  30333
Phone: (404) 498-4493


Kristine A. Mulhorn, PhD, MHSA
Associate Professor
University of Michigan-Flint
303 E. Kearsley St.
Flint, MI  48502

Phone:  (810) 762-3172
Fax:  (810) 762-3003

E-mail:  kmulhorn@umflint.edu




General Council Representatives

Don Lollar, EdD


1600 Clifton Rd. Mail Stop E-88

Atlanta, GA 30333

Phone: (404) 498-3041

E-Mail: dcl5@cdc.gov


Charles E. Drum, JD, PhD

707 SW Gaines Road

Oregon Institute on Disability & Development

Oregon Health & Science University

Portland, OR  97207-0574

Mailing Address:

PO Box 574

Oregon Institute on Disability & Development

Oregon Health & Science University

Portland, OR  97207-0574

Phone: (503) 494-8047

Fax: (503) 494-6868


Student Liaison

Jana Peterson, PhD

Post Doctorate Fellow

Child Development & Rehabilitation Center

Oregon Health & Science University

Mail Stop CDRC 3134

P.O. Box 574

Portland, OR 97297-9946
Phone:  (503) 494-3534
Fax:  (503) 494-6868

E-mail:  peterjan@ohsu.edu


News from Program Committee

The Disability Section welcomes abstracts on all topics related to health and disability for the 136th APHA Annual Meeting in San Diego from Oct. 26-28. This year will mark our 2nd anniversary as an APHA section!

A Chairperson’s Forum will be held in the afternoon of Sunday, Oct. 26 from 3 to 5.


We have asked representatives from several federal research funding agencies to present their disability research programs on Sunday evening. On Tuesday evening, a session titled “Professional Mentoring, Research, and Practice” is planned for student and new investigators to discuss their research with more senior investigators.


Abstract submissions related to the 2008 Annual Meeting theme of "Public Health Without Borders" are encouraged. Papers which reflect this theme are encouraged, but the Section invites abstracts in all areas of disability policy, practice and research.

·         Disability Surveillance

·         Disability and Assistive Devices

·         Disability and Measurement

·         Disability and Health Policy

·         Disability and Health Promotion 

·         Disability and International Health

·         Social Support, Personal Assistance and Caregiving*

·         Disability, Environment and Participation

·         Translating Disability Research into Practice

·         Disability and Health - Infants and children

* Co-sponsor with Gerontological Health Section


Special Sessions:

·         Disability and Community Environmental Intervention Programs

·         Disability and Community Based Health Programs

·         Mentoring for Student and New Investigators


Abstracts are limited to 250 words. The submission deadline is Feb. 8, 2008.

1.    The Disability Forum offers four types of sessions:
Scientific sessions -- oral
presentations of 15 minutes. Priority for these sessions is given to scientific presentations of more developed work, which usually includes some level of data analysis.

2.    Poster sessions -- "Disability Resource Fair". This format is most appropriate for descriptions of developing work, new intervention programs, resource centers, etc.

3.    Special Session -- A thematic group of four invited papers for a special session on a selected topic.

4.    Mentoring for Student and New Investigators -- short oral presentations of developing projects for discussion with senior scientists in the field of disability research.

All presenters will be expected to make their presentations accessible to all participants.


Presenters will be notified about the Disability Section required guidelines for accessibility.

Students: The Disability Section is committed to developing future leaders in the field.


Submissions from students are encouraged, and students should indicate their student status in the Comments box.

Abstract Review Procedures
Abstracts are reviewed

anonymously by at least three professionals in public health and disability. Abstracts are rank ordered using the total mean score from the three reviewers. Review criteria include: Importance/Originality, Methods, Supporting Data, Conclusions.



Program Planner Contact Information:
David B. Gray, PhD
Program in Occupational Therapy
Washington University
Campus Box 8505
4444 Forest Park Ave
St. Louis, MO 63108
Phone: (314) 286-1658
Fax: (314) 286-1601

News from Communication Committee

Please remember to use the Disability Section listserv to communicate a broad based message to other members of the Disability Section. The listserv was introduced last year and has been a huge success for communications among members.  The URL is DisAbility@aahdlistserve.org


The first issue of the Disability and Health Journal will be out in February 2008.  The journal is a peer-reviewed, scientific, scholarly and multidisciplinary journal for reporting original contributions that advance knowledge in disability and health.  Please visit the Journal Web site at http://www.disabilityandhealthjnl.com to learn about the guidelines for submission, Editorial Board, and journal overview.  


The journal is the official publication of the American Association on Health and Disability (AAHD).  AAHD is offering a discounted price to APHA Disability Section members who join AAHD. The discounted price is $100.  To join AAHD and receive the discounted price, please visit www.aahd.us/membership,   The regular price for the journal is $189.


The Communication Committee will be building the Disability Section Web site this year.  We have already received interest form some of the Disability Section members to work on the site as part of a committee.  If you are interested in joining the Communications Committee, please contact Roberta Carlin at rcarlin@aahd.us.  Our first meeting will be in February.


2007 Disability Section Award

The Disability Section presents several awards each year during the Annual Business Meeting and Award Ceremony at the APHA Annual Meeting. These awards celebrate the contributions of outstanding individuals to the disability field within the context of public health. Over the years, several awards have been established to recognize the various types of contributions: the Alan Meyers Award, the Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Student Member Award. This year the New Investigator Award was presented for the first time. This year’s awards ceremony was exceptionally well-attended, with the group celebrating the Disability Forum’s achievement of section status, as well as the accomplishments and contributions of the following individuals.


The Disability Section Student Member Award is presented to a student member who has conducted promising work to advance the health and quality of life of people with disabilities. B.J. Kitchin, a doctoral student at the University of Maine, was selected to receive this award for contributions in the areas of teaching, technology and scholarship that are too numerous to list here, but include teaching undergraduate disability studies courses and serving as a technology specialist to help students with disabilities to communicate their work in class. B.J. is pursuing an interdisciplinary PhD that examines the intersection of accessibility, human rights, and technology within the framework of disability studies. As his nominator, Liz DePoy, wrote, “B.J. has synthesized his talents and commitment to disability, access and social justice in a manner that has exceeded any student who I know.”


The New Investigator Award recognizes a newer investigator who demonstrates evidence of a promising career in public health research in the area of health and wellness for people with disabilities. Thilo Kroll was selected as the first recipient of this award. Currently a faculty member at the University of Dundee in Scotland, Thilo has launched what promises to be a stellar research career by serving as lead or co-investigator on several studies related to health promotion for people with disabilities. He served as lead author for several publications and data briefs and also served as lead editor for a book titled Towards Best Practices in Surveying People with Disabilities. Thilo was nominated for such substantial contributions at this early stage of his career.


The Allan Meyers Award is presented to a person who has combined excellence across the areas of research, teaching and advocacy in disabilities. This award was established in memory of Disability Section member Allan Meyers, a passionate public health and disability researcher, professor and advocate whose life and distinguished career were tragically cut short. This year, Jim Rimmer, professor in the Department of Disability and Human Development, College of Applied Health Sciences, at the University of Illinois at Chicago, director of two federally funded centers -- the National Center on Physical Activity and Disability and the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Recreational Technology and Exercise Physiology -- and chair of the APHA Disability Section, received this award. As one nominator wrote, Jim “has devoted his career to prevention of secondary conditions and health promotion for a population that has received very little attention in the scientific community that is at great risk for worsening health and further disablement without the interventions he has proposed and implemented.” Indeed, Jim is well known for the passion and energy he directs toward these issues!


The Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to a person who, over the course of his or her career, has made a major contribution to the improvement of health and quality of life for people with disabilities in one or more areas of research, teaching or advocacy.  This is the first award that was established by the Disability Section, to recognize specialty and achievement in the field at a time when “disability” and “health” were often considered mutually exclusive. This year, Peg Nosek, executive director of the Center for Research on Women with Disabilities (CROWD) at Baylor University and professor, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Baylor College of Medicine, received this award. Peg is a nationally known investigator who is well-published in the areas of rehabilitation, independent living and health promotion for women with disabilities. Her interest in the health of women with disabilities and her determination to conduct research on this topic led her to found CROWD in 1993. Her nominator cited Peg as a personal and professional role model for women with disabilities who has overcome significant barriers to live independently, be an active community member and achieve a distinguished career.


Additionally, the Disability Section Executive Board presented Don Lollar with a Distinguished Service Award in appreciation for his many years of work to strengthen the Section and to promote it within APHA.  Don cycled off the Executive Board last year, but his years of leadership and vision have greatly benefited the Disability Section -- and continue to do so!


With the exception of Peg Nosek, the awardees were able to attend the Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. to receive their awards and to share a few words with the audience. Gloria Krahn accepted Peg’s award on her behalf and shared her thanks with the audience.


This year’s Awards Committee, Dot Nary as chair, David Keer and Rene Jahiel as members, and Gloria Krahn as ex officio member, would like to thank all who submitted nominations.  


Accessibility Committee Seeks Input to Strengthen Accessibility at Annual Meeting

The Disability Section’s Accessibility Committee will be working throughout 2008 with Section members and APHA officials to strengthen current accessibility policy and its implementation for the next Annual Meeting in San Diego. Although results from the annual online survey are not yet completely available, preliminary findings indicate difficulties with translating existing APHA policies into actual practice and gaps in accessibility policy that must be addressed this year.


Members of our Section Council will be working closely with APHA officials to ensure to the best of our ability that (1) the written accessibility policy is practiced during the next Annual Meeting, and (2) gaps in policy are addressed ahead of time to prevent access problems during the Annual Meeting.


To accomplish these goals, we need input from all interested individuals. Anyone who cares deeply about this issue is encouraged to send suggestions/experiences to Gwyn Jones at gbj4@cdc.gov. Additionally, if you are planning a presentation for our October meeting, or you anticipate that you will be a moderator, please make sure that you follow the accessibility guidelines that you will receive later this year. We can have wonderful policy on the books, but it won’t do any good if no one is willing to put it into practice.



Gilson Serves on EHOC Panel at Annual Meeting

Each year, the Equal Health Opportunity Committee (EHOC) of APHA conducts a scientific session during the Annual Meeting to draw attention to health disparities that have a significant effect on the health of members of marginalized communities.  EHOC, a standing APHA committee that was created in the 1970s, is charged with ensuring and promoting equal access for all to health services, health careers, and opportunities to participate in the development of health policies. This committee also works to promote and monitor equal opportunities and representation within APHA.


Last November, the title of the EHOC scientific session was Health Disparities: Politics, Policy and Public Health, mirroring the theme of the Annual Meeting.  A panel of nationally recognized leaders discussed the political and economic drivers of health disparities and social injustices, as well as ways to address these problems through policy and practice to an audience that packed the room. The panel was moderated by Dr. Alvaro Garza of the San Mateo, Calif. Health Department and presenters included: Dr. Stephen Gilson, University of Maine at Orono; Makani Themba Nixon of The Praxis Project; Dr. Elena Rios, National Hispanic Medical Association; and Dr. Maria Idali Torres, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.


Dr. Gilson, a member of the Disability Section, presented on his area of expertise, explanatory legitimacy theory, using it to explain policy issues that create injustice in the health care system. He applied the theory to problems experienced by people with disabilities, after presenting data that demonstrate disparities experienced by this population in accessing health care. The other presenters built on this theme of social injustice in health care for various groups, as well as remedies.


The session was co-sponsored by the Public Health Nursing Section, the LGBT Caucus and the Asian-Pacific Islander Caucus.

Disability Section Infrastructure Committee Report

Throughout our years as the Disability Caucus, Disability Forum, and most recently as the Disability Section, we have focused on issues important to public health within the disability community. The Infrastructure Committee has taken on a project to commemorate these years of work, and will be assembling a “History of the Disability Forum Monograph” to distribute to current and potentially new members during the 2008 APHA Annual Meeting in San Diego. Each of the past chairs of the Disability Forum will be answering questions about the issues facing the disability community during their tenure as chair, and how the Forum addressed those issues. If anyone has photographs or personal experiences to share about these past years within our organization, please send those to Jennifer Rowland at jenrow@uic.edu .


News from APHA

Celebrate National Public Health Week 2008 - Climate Change: Our Health in the Balance


The health effects of climate change will take center stage during National Public Health Week, April 7-13, 2008. As part of the week-long observance, themed "Climate Change: Our Health in the Balance,"  APHA will lead the charge in helping people, communities and families recognize that adapting to climate change and mitigating its impact is critical not just for the health of our planet, but for the health of the people in our nation and around the world.


Changes in our climate are causing more severe weather events. Extreme weather conditions such as heat waves, high winds, snowstorms, floods and hurricanes have the potential to dramatically affect the health and safety of both individuals and our communities. Changing ecosystems allow for emerging or re-emerging infectious diseases such as dengue or malaria, which are changing the spectrum of disease risks affecting populations. In poorer parts of the world, drought and floods often force people to move away from lands no longer producing enough food often resulting in hunger and malnutrition. Moreover, contaminated drinking water can result in outbreaks of diarrhea diseases leading to dehydration or death.


Few Americans will ever see the melting Greenland ice cap up close, or interact with an arctic polar bear facing extinction as its habitat melts.  But local public health professionals around the country increasingly will be dealing with the impacts of climate change on the ground, every day. Join APHA as we work to create a healthier planet. Visit the official National Public Health Week Web site at www.nphw.org to check out the climate change blog and brochure, sign up to be a National Public Health Week partner, or add your week's event to the national calendar.  For more information about National Public Health Week, contact kaitlin.sheedy@apha.org.

Disability Forum Reaches an Important Milestone - Section Status

The Disability Special Primary Interest Group APHA was initiated in 1994 by a small group of dedicated researchers and clinicians interested in raising the visibility of disability issues within the largest public health organization in the world. Since its inception, the Disability Forum has grown in number from a few dozen members in the mid-1990s, to more than 250 members in 2007, leading to this important milestone in our brief history - Section status. Achieving Section status is a high water mark for all of us who have been involved in public health and disability issues for many years, and validates our work among a collective group of public health professions, organizations and disciplines. As a new Section, disability-related issues will become ‘front and center’ in APHA’s long term strategic plan, and will grow in recognition as an integral part of public health along with the 25 other primary Sections that represent major public health disciplines or public health programs in this nation. Knowledge of issues relevant to our Section will be conveyed to APHA members through high-quality programs at the APHA Annual Meetings, and Section Council members will be assisting APHA in addressing access barriers and increasing overall access at its annual meetings. APHA’s strong association with federal, state, community, and academic health professionals will be a solid framework for moving a disability agenda into the mainstream of public health. The Disability Section will work closely with APHA in improving health worldwide for people with disabilities, and will approach the experience of disability from a public health perspective through the development of science and evidence-based interventions. Overarching goals for our Section include:

1.    Educating the 30,000 APHA members about important issues related to disability;

2.    Bringing together a collection of researchers, practitioners and government organizations to better understand the Disability Studies perspective within the framework of Public Health;


3.    Collaborating with other Sections, Special Primary Interest Groups and Caucuses of APHA in addressing general public health and health care issues facing the disability community.

I hope you will be able to join us at this year’s APHA Annual Meeting in San Diego from Oct. 26-29, 2008. It takes on historic precedence as our first official meeting as a Section! Thank you for your continued support, and have a safe and happy New Year. 


Jim Rimmer, PhD
Section Chair

News from the Policy Committee

The Policy Committee of the Disability Section has had a challenging year.  As many of you know we learned of a proposed revision of a longstanding APHA end of life policy and spent the summer and early fall disentangling both the process and the implications of the proposed policy on the lives of people with disabilities. As the process unfolded it became clear that an APHA member advocate for physician-assisted dying proposed a revision of a 1981 policy on end of life issues.  In the revision the concept of physician-assisted dying was integrated throughout policy.  Prior to the November meeting we were able to communicate with our membership about the proposed policy, and many of you responded. 


With a clear mandate from our membership to oppose the revised policy, based on failure to show that people with disabilities would not be negatively impacted we banned together in Washington to make our point of view clear and compelling.  Our primary approach was to review the literature that describes the Oregon experience with physician-assisted dying, which became legal in 1996. Oregon is the only state in the United States with a law of this type, and a number of other states have had legislation introduced and rejected.  Thus we read the literature and learned that in Oregon data have been carefully collected about race, age, income and other characteristics of the individuals who request physician prescription of lethal doses of medications, but there was no data about pre-existing disability. There is a 2007 published paper that reports “vulnerable groups” are not disproportionally represented as users of physician-assisted dying in Oregon, and some have used this as an argument to say people with disabilities are not disproportionally impacted. This is not the case since the data are not available about disability status.  Other published reports are not conclusive about the unintended consequences of the law.  For example, some report increases in hospice use following the law, and others report reduced pain management -- seemingly contradictory findings.


At the November meeting we spoke in behalf of the Disability Section at the Public Policy Hearing. Our concerns were heard, and the Joint Policy Committee revised the proposed policy.  We reviewed the modified policy and concluded the language about physician-assisted dying still permeated the proposed policy.  We then went to the Governing Council to oppose passage, and we were successful.


As a result of these efforts we now need to quickly come together again since there will be another round of policy negotiation. We anticipate the revised policy will come up again, and we are developing a strategy.  Those of you who want to get more informed about the issues are encouraged to read the existing policies by going to the advocacy and then policy section on the APHA Web site to read policy 8123 and 2005-9. For further information, or to make your point of view known, please contact Suzanne McDermott at: Suzanne.mcdermott@palmettohealth.org.   


Suzanne McDermott, PhD

Policy Chairperson

Professor of Family and Preventive Medicine

University of South Carolina School of Medicine

Columbia, South Carolina