Wednesday, November 22, 2017

IDRAC 2017 Speaker Spotlight

The International Disability Rights Affirmation Conference is coming up on Friday and Saturday, December 1-2, 2017. Under the theme of "Who Is Responsible?" we will hear from speakers from various parts of the country and the world, sharing their observations and thoughts as we look at what the Disability Rights movement has accomplished along with identifying the work that remains to bring full equality to all people, including those with disabilities. This professional conference is free and open to the public to attend.

As we continue to receive information from our presenters we will share it here. Today, we feature two speakers who will present on Saturday morning, December 2nd. Read on to learn about them and their presentation topics, then plan to attend with us!

Presenter Spotlight: Ms. Katie Tastrom

Katie Tastrom is a disability lawyer, writer, activist, and sick person. Her work has been featured at Slate, Ravishly, and The Establishment, and she is a former content writer for The Body Is Not An Apology. She has a website at, and she spends her days working to get disabled people in the US the benefits they are entitled to.

Presentation Description
Diverse identities, diverse tactics: Bringing disability activist wisdom to all political movements

Disabled-led activism has been transformational in enhancing the rights and lives of disabled people, though we have an incredibly long way to go. As people with lived experiences of disability we have skills and talents that can be helpful in furthering the rights of other marginalized people, and it is crucial that we use these skills. We have multiple identities and even though we may be oppressed in some ways due to our disabilities, we need to always think about areas we are privileged and how to leverage those privileges to create change. This presentation will talk about why and how we can do this.

Ms. Tastrom will present on Saturday, December 2, 2017 at 9:30am US Pacific Standard Time, in Second Life®.

Presenter Spotlight: Ms. Sonya Freeman-Loftis

Sonya Freeman-Loftis is an associate professor at Morehouse College. She is the author of two books: Shakespeare’s Surrogates and Imagining Autism. Her work on autism is strongly influenced by her personal experiences as an autistic, while her work on Shakespeare is inspired by her deep and abiding and unyielding and boundless passion for Shakespeare. Her essays on drama and disability have appeared in many journals, and she currently serves on the editorial review board for Disability Studies Quarterly and Review of Disability Studies: An International Journal. In 2015, chapter three of Imagining Autism received honorable mention for the Society for Disability Studies Irving K. Zola Award for “best emerging scholar in the field of disability studies.” Sonya is also a wife and mother. Her husband is not jealous when she says that Shakespeare is “the light of her life.”

Presentation Description
On Speaking and Not Speaking: Autism, Friendship, Interdependency

This collection of autobiographical fragments explores the subject of autistic voice. Juxtaposing moments when autistic communication is recognized and understood with moments in which it isn’t, this work of creative nonfiction examines ideological tensions between independence and interdependency, the potential lines (or lack of lines) separating friendship and support, and some of the inevitable problems that are created when one person speaks for another. The piece also explores the dangers that may arise when social systems and authority figures fail to recognize autistic voices.

Ms. Freeman-Loftis will present on Saturday, December 2, 2017 at 11:00am US Pacific Standard Time, in Second Life®.

Coming into Second Life® for the First Time?

If you are coming to attend the IDRAC conference and it is your first time, we encourage you to create an account and your avatar as soon as possible, to get oriented and able to arrive at the conference venue comfortably. Your account and avatar are completely free. Virtual Ability, Inc.® has created a signup process that helps you through it all, by giving you some important information, then you can sign up for your account. When you first enter Second Life, you will arrive at the start of Virtual Ability's award winning, accessible orientation course which will help you learn the basics of navigating and doing things in Second Life. To create your account and avatar, begin with Virtual Ability's Second Life signup process.

Presenters' images source: Ms. Tastrom from her blog; Ms. Freeman-Loftis from her page at Morehouse College; Second Life image taken by iSkye Silverweb.

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