Join Washington Post Live for a two-part series about disability rights in the United States, the shape of discrimination today and the critically important considerations around caregiving. In these dialogues, we talk to members of the disability community about challenges with state and federal funding and areas ripe for progress. We also address why disabled individuals are often left out of the conversation about their own caregiving and solutions for more inclusive care.

ASL and closed captioning will be available throughout the program. Please email postlive@washpost.com as soon as possible if another accommodation would be useful.

Highlights

“Covid highlighted, from a policy perspective where… we’ve been failing people with disabilities, we’ve been failing their families because the idea is we exist as a unit.” (Washington Post Live)
“There’s this historical, cultural perspective of people with disabilities as needing care… Therefore it’s been a battle in many ways to say, ‘We can speak for ourselves, we can tell you what we need, you just need to listen and be willing to follow through on that.’” (Washington Post Live)
“So many of the institutions that we are forced into… were created under the guise of ‘care.’ When you place someone in a nursing home, when you place someone in a group home, it’s often under the assumption that this person will be ‘cared for,’ when really it’s in these settings that we see huge violations of our rights and abuses.” (Washington Post Live)
“Part of this workforce crisis and labor crisis in this setting is because the jobs of people engaged in direct support work… have not been valued for how important they are. The average person that works in direct support makes $12 dollars and hour.” (Washington Post Live)
“I love and I’m kind of amazed by the ways in which the terms care economy, care work, care crisis are now in the mainstream because they’re things that disabled people and people who are caregivers have been talking about for years and years and years.” (Washington Post Live)
“There’s an idea out there that… disabled people are these passive recipients of care… And the reality is that disabled people keep each other alive all the time… We survive really dire situations.” (Washington Post Live)

Day Al-Mohamed

Day Al-Mohamed currently works for the US Department of Labor. She leads the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s premier safety and health management recognition program, the Voluntary Protection Programs. Ms. Al-Mohamed’s other work at Labor has included the design and implementation of the Add Us In initiative to identify and develop strategies to increase employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities by working with small business associations in underserved and historically excluded communities.

Prior to that, Ms. Al-Mohamed managed the American Psychological Association’s legislative and regulatory activities related to Disability, Healthcare, Immigration, and International Development. This included an active role in passage of the Affordable Care Act and the Hate Crimes Prevention Act. She has served as Director of Advocacy and Governmental Affairs for the American Council of the Blind and provided technical assistance and support to consumers, advisory committees, and governing bodies.

Before her legislative work in Washington DC, Ms. Al-Mohamed’s career has included work in advocacy and legislative initiatives on behalf of many disenfranchised groups. She has worked on the planning committee for the Civil Rights Group of the Cambio de Colores conference; the largest conference that directly addresses the various issues faced by Latino immigrants to the Midwest. In addition, she served as a representative of the ISC-ICC to the Preparatory Commission of the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the United Nations.

Outside of her disability policy work, Ms. Al-Mohamed is an author, filmmaker, and radio host. She is author of the Young Adult novels Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn, and The Labyrinth’s Archivist, and is a regular host on Idobi Radio’s Geek Girl Riot with a listening audience of more than 80,000 listeners. In addition to speculative fiction, she also writes comics and film scripts. Her award-winning Civil War documentary, The Invalid Corps, recently sold to Alaska Airlines and her historical series on disability - Renegades - was just released on American Masters PBS, July 2021.

She is a founding member of FWD-Doc (Documentary Filmmakers with Disabilities) and sits on the board of Docs in Progress. However, she is most proud of being invited to teach a workshop on storytelling at the White House in February 2016. She presents often on disability policy, most recently for the National Bar Association, at New York Comic Con, and at SXSW.

Ms. Al-Mohamed holds a Juris Doctor and a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from the University of Missouri-Columbia and is a strong believer in community service. She proudly serves as a Flotilla Staff Officer (FSO-IS) in the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary and as a Commissioner for the Montgomery County Commission on People with Disabilities. She lives in Silver Spring, Maryland with her wife, N. Renee Brown and guide dog, Gamma.

Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha

Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha is a nonbinary femme disabled writer and disability justice movement worker of Burgher and Tamil Sri Lankan, Irish and Galician Romani ascent. They are the author or co-editor of nine books, including (with Ejeris Dixon) Beyond Survival, Tonguebreaker, Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice, and Bodymap. A Lambda Award winner who has been shortlisted for the Publishing Triangle five times, they are the 2020 Jean Cordova Award winner “honoring a lifetime of work documenting the complexities of queer experience” and are a 2020 Disability Futures Fellow. Raised in rust belt central Massachusetts, they currently make home in South Seattle, Duwamish territories. Their next book, The Future Is Disabled, is out fall 2022.

Maria Town

Maria Town is the President and CEO of the American Association of People with Disabilities. In this role, she works to increase the political and economic power of people with disabilities.

Prior to this she served as the Director of the City of Houston Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities where she advocated for the rights and needs of citizens with disabilities, served as a liaison between the mayor, city council, city departments and other public and private entities on matters pertaining to people with disabilities in Houston, and established local and national partnerships to advance inclusion.

Town is the former senior associate director in the Obama White House Office of Public Engagement where she managed the White House’s engagement with the disability community and older Americans. She also managed the place-based portfolio and coordinated engagement across Federal agencies. While at the White House, Town hosted an inclusive fashion show that highlighted the efforts of makers and designers to enhance disability integration. Prior to this, Town was a policy advisor at the Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy. While at ODEP, Town led and coordinated numerous efforts to improve employment outcomes for youth and young adults with disabilities. She has particular expertise in areas of youth development and leadership and promoting college and career readiness for all youth. In addition to her disability policy work, Town is the creator of the popular CP Shoes blog where she writes about fashion, design, and disability. She was recently named to the Susan Daniel’s Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame and to the inaugural class of Emory University’s 40 Under 40. She hails from Louisiana, where her family still resides.