We are incredibly pleased to announce that Lawrence Carter-Long is joining DREDF as our new Communications Director and that he will be heading up our newly-reignited Disability and Media Alliance Project (D-MAP). His 6 years at the National Council on Disability (NCD) as Public Affairs Specialist and decades of thoughtful and creative disability cultural critique equip him to be the media advocacy leader DREDF — and the cross-disability communities — need right now. We believe in the power of language, the power of knowledge, and the power of the media. We believe in Lawrence’s ability to tap into, and significantly contribute to, that collective power for the betterment of all.
Even in the most recent decades, media advocacy has still been thought of as an add-on for disability activists and advocates, something to be feared as much as it was desired. Since then, media work, both traditional and new media approaches, has become increasingly essential in shaping social justice. No longer do a few gatekeepers control what is seen, heard or shared. In the new media landscape, activists have unprecedented opportunities to control the medium and the message. But, to do so, it takes a combination of commitment and skill.
With Lawrence working with us and guiding us forward, DREDF has a much greater capacity to match our existing commitments and skills. We recognize the need for this more than ever and believe this will have lasting, and positive, effects on national-level disability policy. Equally important will be our work to counter the disability narratives — the overcomer, the inspiration, the tragic figure — and other tropes that are so deeply ingrained in our culture and so destructive to our well-being and dignity. He is committed, as DREDF is, to amplifying diverse cross-disability voices and modeling best practices for accessible platforms.
Lawrence has said this about his decision to join the DREDF staff, “Given the future likely to be faced by the disability community, if there ever was a time to return to my activist roots, it is now. And the place to make the most of what I’ve learned, and to apply it in fresh, innovative ways, is DREDF. I couldn’t be happier. Or more eager to get to work.”
This is a week we all expected would arrive ever since the 2016 election, even as we hoped it somehow would not. On this day alone, DREDF, in coalition with US disability rights and human rights allies, is in an all-out battle to prevent the AHCA from passing a House vote. We are continuing to fight to protect the ADA, our landmark and touchstone civil rights law, from efforts to weaken it. The lawsuit we filed yesterday against Berkeley Unified School District on behalf of students with reading disorders is, predictably, drawing ire from many. And our Executive Director is in Peru, sharing and learning from their disability rights advocates, as part of our RightsNow! multi-year collaboration.
In other words, DREDF — like almost every other civil rights organization — is facing both battles and opportunities on multiple fronts.
In other words, this announcement simply could not be more timely.