American Public Health Association
800 I Street, NW • Washington, DC 20001-3710
(202) 777-APHA • Fax: (202) 777-2534 •

Section Newsletter
Winter 2009


For students in the Disability Section, a student scholarship was offered through the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) that supported five students to attend the APHA Annual Meeting.  These scholarship funds were provided by the Section’s CDC funds and awarded by AUCD.  The Annual Meeting provided a great opportunity for networking.  Many students attended the Disability Section Business Meeting and the Student Social that followed.  In efforts to facilitate professional mentoring for students and young professionals, the Disability Section held a “Professional Mentoring: Research and Practice” session.  The mentorship panel included David Gray, Gloria Krahn, Don Lollar and James Rimmer.  A special thanks to Jana Peterson for planning and moderating the session. 


Having completed her term as student representative to the Executive Committee, Jana will continue her service to the Disability Section as faculty advisor to Section students.  Anjali Truitt, a University of Illinois at Chicago MPH student, will assume the role of student representative.             


It’s already time to start thinking about presentations for the 2009 APHA Annual Meeting, to be held in Philadelphia on Nov. 7–11.  Abstracts for Disability Section presentations are due on Feb. 12, and can be on a wide range of topics related to the health, participation, well-being and independence of people with disabilities.  This year we aim to expand the focus of presentations to include new topic areas, reflecting a broader view of the relationship between public health and disability. Topics of particular interest to the Disability Section are as follows:

    * Access to Health Care Among People with Disabilities

    * Assistive, Information, and Telecommunication Technologies

    * Conceptual Developments in Disability & Health

    * Disability Data Collection, Measurement and Surveillance

    * Disability, Poverty and Economic Well-being

    * Disability-Related Health Disparities

    * Emergency Preparedness and People with Disabilities

    * Health & Wellness Promotion for People with Disabilities

    * Health Care Reform, Health Coverage and People with Disabilities

    * Mental Health and Disability

    * Personal Assistance, Caregiving and Long-Term Care

    * Rehabilitation Outcomes and Measurement Issues

    * Social Participation, the Environment and Disability

    * The Intersection of Disability Research, Advocacy & Public Policy


Further information can be obtained, and abstracts can be submitted, at; scroll down to find the Disability Section.


The Policy Committee will begin 2009 looking for opportunities to respond to APHA policies related to health care reform to be sure the disability viewpoint is addressed. We hope many members will be active in this process through participation in conference calls with the committee or through suggestions about issues on which we  need to focus. We need experts in health policy to become active members of the Policy Committee so please contact Suzanne McDermott at with your contact information if you are interested in serving on the committee.  


For all members who are interested in the policy process, we encourage you to get familiar with the way APHA works to develop new policies, revise old ones, and respond to national initiatives. Please sign into the APHA Web site, using your APHA identification number, then go to the drop-down for Advocacy and Policy.  It pays to send a little time searching around the policy sections so you can see the timetable for activity, the APHA staff priorities, the proposed and the existing policies. Many policies have implications for us, over and above the policies that directly address disability issues. Two disability specific policies we hope you will review are:

  1. Policy 2000-25 Eliminating Access Barriers in Public Health Meetings
  2. Policy 2004-02 Reducing Health Disparities in People with Disabilities through Improved Environmental Programmatic and Service Access

 A lot of effort went into the creation of these policies, and they have implications in all the states. We encourage you to print them out and find ways your health department, university or work site can benefit from a well-documented policy.


Do you know someone who has made a significant contribution to the health and quality of life of people with disabilities?  Someone who should be recognized by the Disability Section? Now is the time to nominate him or her for one of the 2009 Disability Section Awards. The areas of public health that address issues of people with disabilities, as well as the field of disability studies, have advanced substantially through the contributions of many people associated with the Disability Section. Join us in honoring those who have made significant contributions to the field of disabilities within the context of public health.


Allan Meyers Award: This award is presented to a person who has combined excellence across the areas of research, teaching and advocacy to improve the health and quality of life for people with disabilities. Nominees are not required to be members of APHA.

Lifetime Achievement Award:  This 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. Nominees are not required to be members of APHA.

New Investigator Award: This 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.
Eligibility Criteria: 

  • The nominee must have been awarded his or her degree within eight calendar years of the nomination. (For example, for a nomination submitted anytime in 2007, the nominee must have been awarded the degree on or after Jan. 1, 1999.)
  • Evidence documenting a nominee’s successful development as a new investigator must be provided. This evidence must include a minimum of one peer-reviewed publication for which the nominee has taken a substantial role. 
  • The nominee must be a member of the Disability Section.

Student Member Award: This award is presented to a student who has conducted promising work to advance the health and quality of life of people with disabilities. Further information about qualifications will be updated and disseminated soon.


For further information and/or to obtain a nomination form, please contact Awards Committee Chair Jennifer Rowland at


The Communications Committee is looking forward to an active year in 2009.  There will be three newsletters, and we welcome input form members under the News of Note Section.  We encourage everyone to utilize the APHA Disability Section listserv to communicate with your colleagues.  The address is


The Disability and Health Journal, which is the official journal of the American Association on Health and Disability, and is supported by many Disability Section members, continues to thrive.  If you are not familiar with the peer-reviewed journal, please visit  APHA Disability Section members receive a 20 percent discount off the normal subscription price.  Please notate "APHA Disability Section member" on your application form to receive the discount (membership rate $100).  Visit to fill out the form. 


If you are interested in joining the Communications Committee, please contact Roberta Carlin at  We are always interested in improving how we communicate with our members.


Tony Cahill and I would like to introduce ourselves as the new co-chairs of the Disability Section's Accessibility Committee. Tony is the director of the Division of Disability and Health Policy at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine and has an extensive history of accessible conference planning. I'm a rehabilitation engineer at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine and have worked in the ADA/assistive technology field for over 15 years. 


According to everything we have heard, despite a few glitches, accessibility in San Diego was quite good.  As we move forward in anticipation of the conference in Philadelphia in 2009 we will continue the great efforts of the previous Accessibility Committee to improve overall accessibility at APHA. A great working relationship has been established with the conference planners at APHA, and we hope to build even stronger bridges.  Tony and I will be looking to revise and update the Accessibility Survey so as to receive the most accurate accessibility information and to understand the needs from conference participants.  Not only does the Accessibility  Committee utilize the data results from this survey, but APHA staff does as well to constantly improve.  We will also be working with APHA to find ways to further increase participants’ access to sign language interpreters and assistive listening devices.


So, as we look forward in our planning for Philadelphia, Tony and I both welcome any comments, suggestions or issues that you would like for us to address regarding the San Diego Annual Meeting along with any other general or specific accessibility issues that you think are important to APHA as a whole. 



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



Gloria L. Krahn, PhD, MPH


Division of Human Development and Disability National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

1600 Clifton Road, NE, MS E 88

Atlanta, Georgia 30333

Phone:                (404) 498-6160        

Fax:  (404) 496-3060



Stephen French Gilson, PhD


Faculty Advisor Hillel

Center for Community Inclusion & Disability Studies and School of Social Work The University of Maine

5717 Corbett Hall, Room 201

Orono, ME 04469-5717

(voice) -                207/581-1263        ;

(fax) -                207/581-1231         V/TTY -                800/203-6957



Program Chair

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


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


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


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


Awards Chair

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. Room 568

Chicago, IL  60608-6904

Mobile Phone:                (312) 523-4236        

Fax: (312) 355-4058



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



Meg Ann Traci, PhD

Project Director

The Montana Disability and Health Program

The University of Montana Rural Institute: A Center for Excellence in Disabilities Education, Research and Services

52 Corbin Hall

Missoula, MT 59812-7056

               (888) 268-2743         Toll-free, RTC Main Office

               (406) 243-4956         Meg’s Office

               (406) 243-2349         Fax


Accessibility Co-Chairs

Catherine Leigh Graham, MEBME

Rehabilitation Engineer

USC - School of Medicine

Interagency Office of Disability and Health

3209 Colonial Drive

Columbia, SC  29203

Phone:                (803) 434-3189        

(Fax: 803) 434-8374


Anthony Cahill, PhD

Director, Division of Disability and Health Policy

Center for Development and Disability
UNM School
of Medicine

2300 Menaul Boulevard NE

Albuquerque, NM 87107
               (505) 272-2990         phone
               (505) 272-9594         fax
(505) 228-7934 cell


Governing Council Representatives

Don Lollar, EdD


1600 Clifton Rd. Mail Stop E-88

Atlanta, GA 30333

Phone: (404) 498-3041


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

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


Anjali Truitt

MPH Candidate

Community Health Sciences

University of Illinois at Chicago- School of Public Health

1603 W. Taylor St.

Chicago, IL 60612-4394

Dept Phone:                312-996-6620        .

Phone: c.                (503) 381-4272

Alternate e-mail:

CHAIR'S REPORT - 2008 APHA Annual Meeting

This year’s APHA Annual Meeting in San Diego was an historic event for the Disability Section. It was the first meeting under our new Section status, and the transformation from an ‘interest group’ to a ‘section’ gave us a significantly higher level of visibility among the other 24 Sections in APHA. For those of you reminiscent of the days when disability was more of an afterthought in the minds of many public health professionals, it is comforting to know that disability today has a much greater presence within public health, and in particular, within the hierarchy of APHA. For the first time in our brief 20-year history, we had a seat at the 2008 Intersectional Council meeting alongside such stalwart sections as Medical Care, Epidemiology and Statistics. New section status enhances the visibility of disability-related issues among other sections within APHA, and keeps us in the loop on legislative and policy issues proposed by APHA that may affect the lives of people with disabilities.  


The Disability Section program covered a range of diverse topics, from traditional themes like Disability Surveillance, Health Promotion and Epidemiology, to new program areas in Disability and Community-Based Health Technology, International Health, and Translating Disability Research into Practice. The 50-plus oral presentations and 30 posters provided conference participants with a wealth of information on cutting-edge research in disability and public health.  Other highlights of the conference included a third place finish as the most attractive booth in the exhibit area; a new Disability Section professional brochure and student brochure; distribution of four $1,000 student scholarships to attend this year’s APHA meeting; a more dynamic and engaging Web site; accessibility guidelines for presenters, moderators and program planners; and a new monograph on the 20-year History of the Disability Forum/Section.


The one unfortunate event was our unsuccessful attempt to block passage of the Physician-Assisted Suicide resolution (referred to as Self-Determination at the End of Life) sponsored by the Epidemiology Section. Policy Chair Suzanne McDermott and others worked tirelessly at rebutting the proposed resolution but faced a strong headwind of Governing Council members who had likely made up their mind prior to the meeting to support the resolution. The positive outcome, however, was raising awareness within APHA that certain issues in public health will be contested by our Section if they adversely affect the lives of people with disabilities. All in all, it was a great inaugural conference as a new Section, led by a terrific group of Executive Council members who volunteered their time and effort to ensure that the conference program was interesting, informative and accessible.