My name is Grace Hart, and this past June I attended ASAN’s ACI (Autism Campus Inclusion) program in Washington, D.C. This week-long program equipped me with the knowledge and skills I needed to pursue my activism goals on my college campus and in the U.S. Congress, where I am currently an intern. ACI not only educates students about the history and significance of the disability rights movement, but teaches them how to create similar change in their schools, workplaces, and even governments by taking the entire ACI cohort to Capitol Hill to advocate for disability rights legislation.
The most important resource that ACI has given me is a helpful community to turn to for advice and support as I pursue my activism goals. Before attending this program, I was hesitant to speak out about the injustices that disabled students at my university faced because I was constantly bombarded with ableist ideas and arguments. Being introduced to the disability community has given me the confidence and resources I need to fight for change and stand my ground when need be.
It is impossible for me to explain exactly how much ACI has done for me. Before attending this conference, I had not even told my family I was autistic, and now I regularly meet with Congressional staffers to discuss disability rights issues and what we can do to make Congress more accessible for autistic people.
I would highly recommend this program to autistic students working to make the space they live and work in more accessible. This program not only prepares students to enact change, but gives them the support to see it through.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this letter. I hope that you have a truly fantastic day!