Vol. 42, No. 4

Disability Rights Under Siege

This issue of Human Rights is dedicated to exploring the landscape of disability rights law in 2017. This subject could not be more timely given the current political climate in which not only the rights but the very lives of people with disabilities are under severe and constant threat.

With the changing political atmosphere, what does the future hold for civil rights laws protecting the disability community? In her article, Hill discusses legislation currently in place and how changes could damage the rights of those with disabilities.

The passage of the ABLE Act allows individuals with disabilities and their families to save without losing eligibility to government programs, helping them to prepare for long-term needs and care.

Employment is an important part of self-worth, particularly for disabled people. Unfortunately, this group is often at a disadvantage for job opportunities. However, recent laws, policy changes, and programs are helping to change that.

Nearly 20 percent of women in the world are disabled. Ortoleva looks at the issues affecting disabled women and offers resolutions for including this population in conflict resolution efforts.

To uphold strides made in recent legislation under the Obama administration that has expanded opportunities for people with disabilities, including those with psychiatric disabilities, it is imperative that government approach mental health from a disability rights perspective. Contrast this with policies focusing on “mental health” that tend to associate psychiatric disability with violence and crime.

The criminal justice system has a tendency to focus only on the facts of the crime while ignoring the individual. Fair sentences require an understanding of the person being sentenced, along with the details of the crime.

Americans, in large part, don’t know or understand their human rights. This is evident in the realm of public education of children with disabilities. A common understanding of human rights is needed to improve the lives of those with disabilities, and including children with disabilities in educational settings is a start.

Growing political involvement from people with disabilities, called “self-advocates,” has helped to promote a more rights based approach to disability policy, pushing boundaries in community inclusion.

The relationship between a nation’s laws and culture can be seen in its treatment of individuals with disabilities. Wohl looks at how American life and culture reflect a history of discrimination, segregation, and neglect and how popular culture can shape the way our nation views and treats those with disabilities.

In this issue, we honor Judy Heumann, who has worked tirelessly to pave the way for those with disabilities. With impressive political undertakings and a vision of inclusion, Heumann has made the world a more tolerant and fair place.

Human Rights Magazine

Each of our Section members receives a subscription to Human Rights, our award-winning quarterly magazine. For decades, it has been a trusted source of expert ideas, opinions, and discourse on a diverse array of topics in the human and civil rights arena.

About the Magazine

Published quarterly, Human Rights covers a wide range of topics in the human and civil rights arena. While the subscription is free of charge for Section members, individual subscriptions may be purchased for $18 by calling the American Bar Association Service Center at 1-800-285-2221. Additional annual subscriptions for Section members are $3 each.

If you are a member of the ABA but not the Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities then we encourage you to join today. If you are not a member of the ABA then we encourage you to visit the ABA membership page. You can also resolve membership issues by calling 1-800-285-2221.

Please note that all information appears as it did when originally published. Therefore, some biographical information about the authors may no longer be accurate.

Editorial Board

Chair Wilson Adam Schooley

Kristen Galles
Jason Miller
Serena Nowell
Claire Parins
Aram A. Schvey
Jason Sengheiser
Juan Thomas
Penny Wakefield
Stephen J. Wermiel
Alex Wohl

Issue Editors
Wilson Adam Schooley
Misty Thomas
Seth Miller

Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice

Chair Kirke Kickingbird
Chair-elect Robert N. Weiner
Vice-Chair Wilson Adam Schooley
Secretary Sheila Y. Thomas
Finance Officer Toby Graff
Section Delegate Estelle H. Rogers
Section Delegate Walter H. White, Jr.
Immediate Past Chair Lauren Stiller Rikleen
Section Director Tanya N. Terrell
Associate Director Paula Shapiro
Project Director (AIDS) and Director of the ABA Center for Human Rights Michael L. Pates
Project Director (Death Penalty Due Process Review) Misty Thomas
Section Administrator Jaime T. Campbell
Program Assistant Alli Kielsgard

Copyright Information

All articles and information on this page are copyright 2017 by the American Bar Association. All rights reserved. This information or any portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association.

Request Reprint Permission