Virtual conference

The intersection of disability and race explored at the free DEI virtual conference: Civil rights lawyer Kimberlé W. Crenshaw and disability activists will present

BROOKVILLE, NY – As issues at the intersection of disability and race remain underrecognized due to a lack of fluency or awareness, nonprofits AHRC Nassau and The Arc of the United States respond with a free online conference at Wednesday, May 18, 2022 to connect participants of all abilities and backgrounds with research, best practices and, most importantly, with each other.

The Virtual Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Conference, “Beyond the Comfort Zone: Understanding and Addressing Injustice, Racism and Inequality in Developmental Disabilities”, will explore the history, latest research and opportunities for increased inclusion of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) as well as recognition of direct care staff, who are primarily Black, Indigenous and People of Color ( BIPOC).

“Disability is an underdeveloped area of ​​DEI. For those with no prior connection to the disability experience or underlying race-related issues, there can be shame and hesitation in trying to discuss these issues – or worse, silence,” said Stanfort J. Perry, conference chair and AHRC CEO. Nasau. “The purpose of this online conference is to create a platform offering the latest information on the intersectionality of issues related to ableism and racism – to encourage questions, conversations and, above all, to shine a light on those that society marginalized.”

More than 30 years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, people with disabilities remain one of the most marginalized groups – at high risk of violent crime for contract and die from COVID-19. Their essential support staff, who make the tasks of daily living and participation in the wider community possible, are mostly women of color who have spent years advocating for a living wage. According to a report from the University of Minnesota – Institute on Community Integration and The National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals, “Black/African American direct support professionals (DSPs) were paid less per hour than white DSPs, and a percentage more high number of Black/African American DSPs worked 40 or more overtime hours per week.

Although the needs are immense, a general lack of funding has led to a 43% national turnover rate in the direct care workforce and a staffing crisis. Self-advocates, like Jessica Campbell, have advocated for years to obtain the necessary funding to provide the services and support needed to live an independent life. “Imagine not being able to get medicine, access money, stay clean, cook, do your job or go out in the community – that’s what a staffing crisis means for us,” said Campbell, who is currently a board member of AHRC Nassau. directors and a field assistant for the Long Island area at the New York State Self-Advocacy Association.

The upcoming DEI virtual conference is important to Campbell because in addition to addressing some of these issues in a conference panel, she hopes “more people have a chance to be understood and more people can begin to understand experience of disability”.

For Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc of the United States, “disability service providers, at the state and federal level, work within legal, legislative and service frameworks that can be complex and difficult to navigate, whether you are receiving services, working in industry, or seeking understanding as an outside observer.

“Within these systems, people with disabilities and their direct care staff can increasingly distance themselves from the action of daily living and lead lives parallel to those of their non-disabled peers, with little interaction , largely unseen and unheard of,” Berns said. “The DEI virtual conference speaker list will offer valuable insights into how meaningful change must be the result of collective partnership and advocacy across all facets of society.”

Conference Keynote and Civil Rights Advocate Dr. Kimberle W. Crenshaw provide insight into the ‘intersectionality’ framework – a concept she pioneered – addressing how overlapping identities, such as disability, gender identity and race, can lead to issues of inequality and inequality are complex and sometimes under-recognized. Dr. Crenshaw is currently the Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law at Columbia Law School, as well as Emeritus Professor of Law at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Examining existing support systems and how to achieve a more inclusive future is central to the plenary session programming. Plenary speaker Kerri E. Neifeldcommissioner of the Office of People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) in New York State, will present how his office is working to stabilize, professionalize and strengthen the post-pandemic direct support workforce, while advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in the field of developmental disabilities.

Plenary speaker Tawara Goodeassociate professor and director of the Georgetown University National Center for Cultural Competence, will assess cultural and linguistic competence in collective industry efforts to advance DEI, and more specifically, what it means to achieve results in the IDD space, while as the plenary speaker Atif ChoudhuryCEO of UK-based company, Diversity & Ability, will share insights from his lived experience and career on topics ranging from how to assess an organization’s progress towards a fully inclusive culture to proactive recognitions of intersectionality.

“The quality of insight and dedication to advancing social justice outcomes at this conference is exceptional,” Perry said. “With over 30 sessions, featuring speakers from a variety of disciplines and professional backgrounds, we anticipate a day of learning and connection that will advance a more inclusive and equitable future for all. That’s why conference recordings and an event toolkit will be available free of charge for one year after the event. This event is intended to serve as a resource, informing and empowering more organizations and individuals.

The DCI Virtual Conference “Beyond the Comfort Zone: Understanding and Addressing Injustice, Racism and Inequality in Developmental Disabilities” will be held on Wednesday, May 18 from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET to The event is free and open to all. Closed captioning will be available for all sessions; American Sign Language is available for plenary sessions and some sessions.

FREE NASW Continuing Education Credits Available NASW-NYS is recognized by the State Council for Mental Health Practitioners of the New York State Department of Education as an Approved Provider of Continuing Education for Social Workers (Provider ID #0014), Licensed Mental Health Counselors (Provider ID # MHC-0053), and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (Provider ID #MFT-0037) and Licensed Psychologists (Provider ID # PSY-0088)

About Us
AHRC Nassau, a chapter of The Arc New York, is one of New York State’s largest agencies supporting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Based in Nassau County, the nonprofit empowers people to lead fulfilling lives, together with family, friends, and community. AHRC’s programs include a wide range of supports for people with disabilities and their families, including vocational and employment services, adult day accommodations and community services, guardianship, support services family and respite/recreation opportunities, as well as residential services. AHRC Nassau is part of an elite group of international agencies accredited by CQL | Accreditation with Distinction from the Council on Quality and Leadership for People-Centered Excellence. AHRC is also one of four agencies accredited by the New York State Office of Developmentally Disabled as a Compass agency, which is the highest level of accreditation offered. For more information, visit

The Arc of the United States advocates for and serves people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), including Down syndrome, autism, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy and others diagnoses. Arc has a network of nearly 600 chapters across the country promoting and protecting the human rights of people with IDD and actively supporting their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lives. For more information, visit

For more information, please contact Nicole Zerillo, Assistant Director of Community Resources, AHRC Nassau, at 516.626.1075, ext. 1134, or [email protected]


Editor’s note: The Arc is not an acronym; always refer to us as the Arc, not the ARC and never the ARC. The Arc should be considered as a title or a sentence.