Reflection, Dave Dawley

David DawleyBefore going to the conference this year, having never been before, I kept hearing the same phrase repeated over and over; “You’ve never been to the conference? Everybody has to go at least once!” As soon as I arrived I knew exactly what they were all talking about. It is by far the largest and most important conference I have ever attended. It was so wonderful seeing the sheer numbers of people working towards common public health solutions.

Disabilities studies have always been a main focus of my life. Whether it was disparities, advances in technologies and assistive devices or simply the recognition that disability is a natural part of human existence, its importance cannot be overstated.

When I arrived at the conference, I immediately met hundreds of amazing people, all striving towards the same goals and dreams. To me, it was unbelievable to be surrounded by so many people all sharing a common interest in improving quality of life and reducing disparities that exist for disabled persons. This, along with the opportunity to be part of a focus group to discuss accessibility, which is my main area of interest, made the trip of utmost importance to me. I can’t thank the APHA-Disabilities Section enough for this opportunity.

I believe the conference itself needs to be experienced more than once just to address the vastness of it. I also learned another important lesson; it doesn’t end with the conference. It is a process that is a year-round commitment. I will be assisting communications group of the disabilities section and work between conferences to raise awareness.

What great people you are, all of you and keeping all the connections I have made will be a priority as I move forward. These connections help remind me what important work is being done now and work that will continue to be done in the future.

Thank you once again;

Dave Dawley