Disabilities in the African-American Community

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A conference will be held in Phoenix on February 17 to explore a wide range of issues impacted by disabilities within the African-American community. Renaldo Fowler of the Arizona Center for Disability Law will talk about the issues and the conference.

Ted Simons: A CONFERENCE WILL BE HELD FRIDAY TO EXPLORE A WIDE RANGE OF ISSUES IMPACTED BY DISABILITIES WITHIN THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN COMMUNITY. INCH THE EVENT RUNS FROM 8:00 TO 5PM AT THE DESERT WILLOW CONFERENCE CENTER IN PHOENIX. HERE NOW TO TALK ABOUT DISABILITY ISSUES IN THE AFRICAN AMERICAN COMMUNITY IS RENALDO FOWLER OF THE ARIZONA CENTER FOR DISABILITY LAW. WELCOME TO "ARIZONA HORIZON." GOOD TO HAVE YOU HERE.

RENALDO FOWLER: THANK YOU.

Ted Simons: TALK ABOUT IN GENERAL TERMS HERE, THE ISSUES IMPACTED IN THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN COMMUNITY BY DISABILITIES?

RENALDO FOWLER: YES, ONE OF THE UNIQUE THINGS FOR DISABILITIES IN THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN COMMUNITY, YOU HAVE CHALLENGES JUST BEING AFRICAN-AMERICAN. WHEN YOU ADD A LAYER OF DISABILITY TO THAT CONVERSATION, YOU HAVE SIGNIFICANT CHALLENGES IN TERMS OF EDUCATION, IN TERMS OF EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES. THERE ARE A LOT OF FACTORS THAT IMPACT THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN COMMUNITY.

Ted Simons: IT'S DESCRIBED AS A DOUBLE BURDEN BUT IT'S REALLY A DOUBLE CHALLENGE ON AFRICAN-AMERICAN MINORITIES.

RENALDO FOWLER: THAT'S CORRECT.

Ted Simons: HOW DO YOU ADDRESS THIS. THE CONDITION EXISTS. HOW DO YOU FIX IT?

RENALDO FOWLER: ONE OF THE THINGS WE TRY TO DO WITH THE CONFERENCE, WE TRY TO PROVIDE THE COMMUNITY WITH EDUCATION. WHEN I TALK ABOUT THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN CONFERENCE ON DISABILITIES, THAT'S FOR THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN COMMUNITY AND THOSE THAT SERVE THE COMMUNITY. IT SERVES TWO PURPOSES. THE COMMUNITY CAN COME OUT, LEARN ABOUT THE RESOURCES. FOR THOSE FOLKS THAT SERVE THE COMMUNITY, TO COME OUT TO SEE WHAT THE COMMUNITY HAS TO SAY. WE TRY TO PROVIDE A SELF ENVIRONMENT FOR THE COMMUNITY.

Ted Simons: OVERALL, TALK ABOUT THE HEALTH INEQUITIES EXPERIENCED OUT THERE?

RENALDO FOWLER: ONE OF THE THINGS WITH AFRICAN-AMERICANS, DISPROPORTIONATELY USE PUBLIC HEALTH SYSTEMS. ONE OF THE STRUGGLES YOU HAVE IS FINDING QUALITY HEALTHCARE FOR CHILDREN. ONE THING THAT IMPACTS AFRICAN-AMERICAN FAMILIES, THE RATE OF AUTISM IS THE SAME AS THE GENERAL POPULATION, BUT AFRICAN-AMERICAN FAMILIES, KIDS ARE IDENTIFIED A YEAR TO TWO YEARS LATER BECAUSE OF THE GENERAL POPULATION. THOSE ARE CRUCIAL PERIODS WHEN THE KIDS ARE YOUNG THAT THEY GET INTERVENTION. WE HAVE THE CONFERENCE FOR PARENTS TO COME AND FIND OUT AND FOR THOSE FOLKS THAT PROVIDE INTERVENTION SERVICES GIVE THEM TECHNIQUES TO REACH OUT TO THE COMMUNITY.

Ted Simons: I WOULD SAY TEACHERS, RESOURCE OFFICERS.

RENALDO FOWLER: AND A LOT OF STATE AGENCIES HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY TO COORDINATE SERVICES.

Ted Simons: TALK ABOUT IF YOU CAN, THE ENTER PLAY, THE DYNAMICS OF BEING SOMEONE WHO IS DISABLED AND RACIAL IDENTITY AND HOW THEY MIX AND MATCH AND FIGHT EACH OTHER AND THE WHOLE NINE YARDS?

RENALDO FOWLER: THE WAY EACH COMMUNITY IDENTIFIES ITSELF IN TERMS OF RACE AND DISABILITY, THE CULTURE IMPACTS THE DISABILITY. SOME CULTURES ARE MORE ACCEPTING AND UNDERSTANDING ABOUT DISABILITIES. SOME CULTURE, DUE TO STIGMA WON'T GET THE HELP THEY NEED AND WON'T TALK ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES. WE WANT PEOPLE IN THE COMMUNITY TO TALK ABOUT MENTALITY HEALTH, ACCESS THE MENTAL HEALTH SYSTEM TO GET THE SERVICES. AS PART OF A CONFERENCE, WHEN YOU LOOK AT DISABILITY, RACE, THERE IS ALSO THE ISSUE OF LAW ENFORCEMENT, THE ISSUE OF SCHOOL TO PRISON PIPELINE. THERE ARE SO MANY ISSUES OUT THERE.

Ted Simons: THE SCHOOL TO PRISON PIPELINE HARKINS BACK TO WHAT TEACHERS SHOULD KNOW TO WATCH OUT FOR.

RENALDO FOWLERL: ONE OF THE THINGS THAT -- THERE ARE QUITE A FEW STUDIES. WHEN YOU HAVE STUDENTS IN SCHOOL, PART OF THE SCHOOL RESOURCE OFFICE IS PART OF THE DISCIPLINE PROCESS TOO. ONE OF THE THINGS OF THE OFFICE OF RIGHTS AND DISABILITY ACT REQUIRES YOU TO COLLECT DATA ON DISABILITY ON DISCIPLINE AND THE LEVEL OF DISCIPLINE. THERE ARE MANY STUDIES OUT THERE THAT TALK ABOUT OVER IDENTIFICATION OF KIDS IN SPECIAL OCCASION AND THE UNDERSERVICE. ONCE KIDS ARE IDENTIFIED, THEY ARE PLACED IN A RESTRICTIVE SETTING. OFTEN TIMES, ESPECIALLY AFRICAN-AMERICAN KIDS ARE DISCIPLINED HARSHER. SOMETIMES YOU GET RESOURCE OFFICERS INTERVENING WITH THOSE STUDENTS WHO MAY NOT BE TRAINED -- THE RESOURCE OFFICERS MAY NOT BE TRAINED ON INTERACTING WITH A STUDENT WITH A DISABILITY.

Ted Simons: SOUNDS LIKE THE CONFERENCE, FOCUS IN GENERAL IS WHAT IT MEANS TO BE INDEPENDENT WITH A DISABILITY.

RENALDO FOWLER: REALLY, THE MAIN PURPOSE OF THE CONFERENCE IS TO REALLY PROVIDE THE INDIVIDUAL AND THEIR FAMILY -- WE COVER A LOT OF TOPICS, VETERAN ISSUES, EDUCATION ISSUES. WE HAVE A STUDENT TRACK THIS YEAR. WE ADDED A STUDENT TRACK THIS YEAR WHERE WE LIKE TO INVITE YOUNG PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES TO COME TO THE CONFERENCE SO THEY CAN PREPARE FOR LIFE AFTER SCHOOL. WE ARE TALKING ABOUT PROVIDING INDIVIDUALS WITH THE OPPORTUNITY TO GET THE INFORMATION THEY NEED TO HAVE A FULL, PRODUCTIVE LIFE. WE ARE INCLUDING INFORMATION ABOUT VOTING RIGHTS TOO.

Ted Simons: THAT'S 8:00 A.M. TO 5:00 P.M. TOMORROW AT THE DESERT WILLOW CONFERENCE CENTER HERE IN PHOENIX, ARIZONA.

RENALDO FOWLER: THAT'S CORRECT.

Ted Simons: NOT BAD FOR A NATIONAL CONFERENCE.

RENALDO FOWLER: APPRECIATE IT.

Ted Simons: COMING UP ON "ARIZONA HORIZON," WE HEAR FROM A MAN WHO SPENT FIVE YEARS ON DEATH ROW BEFORE BEING SET FREE. HE NOW SPEAKS OUT AGAINST THE DEATH PENALTY. THAT'S NEXT.

Ted Simons: WE WANT TO CORRECT SOMETHING QUICKLY, THE CONFERENCE IS FRIDAY 8:00 A.M. TO 5:00 P.M. AT THE DESERT WILLOW CENTER IN PHOENIX.



Renaldo Fowler: Arizona Center for Disability Law

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