About the Pre-Conference
Notwithstanding the Senate’s recent failure to provide the super-majority necessary to ratify the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, United States law has been the international model for the recognition and definition of the rights of people with disabilities. The disability rights movement has promoted accessibility and safety in transportation and architecture, equal opportunities in independent living, employment, and education, and freedom from abuse, neglect, and violations of patients’ rights.
The Pre-Conference will cover the development of both international and US law on these issues in the past half-century. An important milestone was the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990, which provided comprehensive civil rights protections for people with disabilities in the United States. It mandated access to public transportation, restaurants and stores, as well as public programs. It required employers (with more than 15 employees) not discriminate against workers with disabilities and make reasonable accommodations for them. Most recently, a federal judge ruled that Internet businesses (e.g., Netflix) that serve the public are subject to the ADA and must accommodate people with disabilities.
Four long-time advocates for people with mental disabilities and for their families at national, state, and local levels will discuss the ways that legal changes have—and have not—translated into changes in status, prejudice, and opportunities. Two of the discussants were senior state officials who are long-time national consultants, and two have been both leading advocates and a parent or spouse of an individual with mental illness or emotional disturbance. The thrust of the discussion will be the ways that political and social structures must be built to implement rights of people with disabilities, in both the letter and the spirit of the law.
The Pre-Conference will take place at University Center (225 South Pleasantburg Drive, Greenville) from 1:30 to 5:00 pm Wednesday April 10, 2013. Besides providing students a forum for engaging the conceptual and technical issues embedded in these challenges, the Pre-Conference will also provide background for the perspectives to be presented in the Symposium itself. Students will have a chance to explore in depth the application of culture change to research and practice, which will be useful for participating in the discussions the following days. Background readings for the meeting will be distributed in advance.
The Pre-Conference is also an exciting opportunity to meet other students and presenters with similar interests from other countries, universities, and disciplines. At the end of the day, there will be a cookout, where students will be joined by board members of the sponsoring organizations and by some of the plenary speakers. Students will have opportunities for informal discussions and mentoring and, of course, relaxation and good food.
An additional benefit for students to participating in the Symposium is free online access to the American Journal of Orthospsychiatry for one year.
CU-IFNL offers unique interdisciplinary PhD and certificate programs in International Family and Community Studies. For information, see www.clemson.edu/ifnl, and click on “Graduate Studies.”