DC Commission on Persons with Disabilities (DCCPD) We met on July 24 at 9:00 AM in the City Conference Room at 441 4th st. NW. Commissioners present were: Denise Decker – Chair, Derrick Smith, Tarik Khan and Oliver Washington, Shakira Hemphill and Charles Butler by Phone. Guests present were: Dr. Jewel Quinn, Rosalind German, Mary Jean DiPietro, Sandra Lee, Sandra Foulk, Barbara Thorpe, Walter Williams, Sheila Pannell, Deirdre Jefferson, Zafra Stork, and Antonio Stephens.
Derek Orr, Director of the DC Office of Disability Rights (ODR) joined us. Derek announced that he would be leaving ODR for a position in Disability Employment Management at the Department of Justice. While we will miss Derek’s consistent support and encouragement of the DCCPD, we congratulated him on his new position. Commissioners hope that we can continue to work with him in his new capacity.
Christina Mitchell, ODR’s ADA Coordinator, also joined us and we had the privilege of welcoming Kali Wasanko, new Special Assistant to ODR. We are very glad that Kali can join our team and look forward to working with her.
There are two upcoming dates that are of crucial importance to the DCCPD. First, the Mayor’s Disability EXPO will happen on October 9 at the Martin Luther King Library. The Expo will run from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM and will encompass much of the library, with a formal program in the morning, exhibits, a job fair and demonstrations for children throughout the rest of the day. Commissioners have been asked to spread the word about the program and to ensure they are present. Denise and Kali will discuss roles and responsibilities and will request that Commissioners volunteer as their time permits. A number of the guests present also offered to volunteer. We want to include, among other topics, the findings of our survey on the needs of children with disabilities.
Blindness Awareness Day is the next event that Commissioners were asked to note. It will take place from 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM on October 15 in the Press Room of the Wilson Center. The event is being sponsored by the DC chapters of the American Council of the Blind and the American Federation of the Blind as well as by the Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind. The Mayor has been invited. Due to the limitations of space, the event is invitation only, about 100 guests, but the Atrium of the Press Room will also be used to accommodate refreshments. Commissioners were also asked to reserve this date. An agenda will be emailed to the DCCPD when finalized.
We next discussed our Survey of Organizations Serving Children with Disabilities. Christina shared that the results are in and being assembled. As a Commission, we will analyze these results and use them to guide the design of a forum on this topic that we would like to hold within the next several months. We will discuss this further at our next meeting in September. Some preliminary findings were that the needs of children weren’t always being heard and that mental health issues need to be taken more into consideration.
Denise next shared that she has invited a guest speaker for the September meeting. She had the opportunity to hear Mary Casey Lockier of the American Red Cross speak on the importance of including people with disabilities in emergency preparedness centers. At the time that she spoke, Mary shared a plan that the Red Cross had to accomplish this.
This information will be of importance to the DCCPD and as we try to have a guest speaker at as many of our meetings as possible, we look forward to Mary’s presentation. The DDOT Red Top Program was going to send a guest speaker, but had to cancel at the last minute. They will be re-scheduled for a later meeting in the fall.
We next discussed our five-year strategic plan, which is due. Kali will email our current plan to DCCPD members so it can be reviewed for applicability to the current requirement. She will also identify several other templates so that they can be compared. DCCPD members were asked to identify one to three activities that they would like to accomplish per year and email any suggestions to Kali. Members should keep in mind their skills and abilities and how these can be applied to the development of the plan.
Possible activities for the upcoming plan include a forum on the needs of children with disabilities, a forum on emergency preparedness and webinars on employment, housing and healthcare. Denise and Kali will meet to work on a draft plan that will be fleshed out with the DCCPD in September.
Announcements included the upcoming DC Beautification Day through Parks and Recreation. . The meeting was adjourned at 10:30 AM.
Denise M. Decker, Ph.D.