❄️ASAN January Update ❄️

ducks on a lake surrounded by snow

ASAN January Newsletter

ducks floating on a pond surrounded by snow

Dear friends,

We had hardly rung in the New Year before getting to work, starting the year off strong even in the face of ableist adversity!

Early in the month, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky spoke in an interview about a research study showing that among vaccinated COVID-19 patients, 78% of those who died had four or more co-occurring conditions. In her full, unedited remarks, Dr. Walensky stated that these people “were unwell to begin with” and referred to these results as “really encouraging news.” The disability community has expressed outrage and hurt at these remarks, both because of the callous attitude they convey — that the CDC views the deaths of people with disabilities as expected, inevitable, and less tragic than the deaths of nondisabled people — and because this attitude is reflected in many of the CDC’s policies, which fail to take into account the needs of Americans with disabilities.

Many disability organizations have responded with a letter, which ASAN helped to organize. The letter expresses our collective horror and disappointment at these remarks, and outlines specific policy shifts that the CDC must make in order to begin to rebuild trust with the disability community. Representatives from several of the signatories to the letter, including ASAN, met with Dr. Walensky to discuss these necessary changes and secured a commitment to regular meetings. You can watch our meeting with Dr. Walensky, and learn about our next steps, here.

While we worked in coalition to hold the CDC accountable, ASAN’s other work did not stop. We had the opportunity to submit written comments for the IACC’s public meeting on January 19th. We urged the IACC to center efforts to support and reach underserved autistic populations, including autistic people of color and autistic people assigned female at birth, in its strategic plan.

We also made an exciting announcement this month: ASAN is hiring a Policy Director! Do you like talking about all things disability rights? Are you great at building partnerships? Do you have a passion for legislative advocacy? Do you obsess about strategy? Join the ASAN team! We’re looking for someone with a vision for the future of our community and the skills to lead our disability and civil rights policy advocacy. For more information and the full breakdown of responsibilities, see the posting here.

The time to honor those we’ve lost is fast approaching. On Tuesday, March 1st, the disability community will gather virtually and across the nation to remember these disabled victims of filicide – disabled people murdered by their family members or caregivers. Since 2012, ASAN and other disability rights organizations have come together to send a clear message that disability is not a justification for violence. We’re looking for a dedicated group of vigil site coordinators to host vigils in their communities around the world, whether virtual or in-person. If you’re interested, sign up to be a Day of Mourning vigil site coordinator here. Please only hold vigils in-person if it is safe to do so – for example, outdoors and masked. To learn more about Day of Mourning, see our Anti-Filicide Toolkit.

There are more ways you can get involved with ASAN this year. Applications are open for the 2022 Autism Campus Inclusion (ACI) Leadership Academy! The ACI summer leadership training prepares autistic students to engage in disability advocacy on their college campuses. ACI participants learn about making student groups, understanding disability policy, and talking to people in power. After the Academy, students get help from ASAN to meet their advocacy goals at their college. This year’s program will be held from July 11th through 20th, 2022. This year’s program will be held in person, if it is safe to do so. If we cannot have ACI in person, we will hold it virtually. Download your application today!

We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us in 2022 – but if this first month is any indication, we know we can count on your support when it matters the most. Thank you for being right there with us!


The Team at ASAN

New year, same policy priorities! This month, we:

  • Signed on to a letter organized by our partners CommunicationFirst in support of a bill in Virginia that would advance the rights of nonspeaking students in schools to access AAC and be included in the general education classroom
  • Joined the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities in asking Congress to pass a new reauthorization of the 21st Century Assistive Technology Act, which helps pay for assistive technology in all 50 states and some Native American nations
  • Urged Health and Human Services to do more to truly center its response on protecting the lives of older adults and people with disabilities in communities most at risk, including expanding access to at-home testing for Medicare and Medicaid enrollees.
  • Joined a coalition of cross-disability organizers in asking that Amtrak intercity train aisles be widened to the ADA accessibility standards, because everyone should get to enjoy train travel!

Last but certainly not least, our outgoing Legal Director Sam Crane was featured on a podcast about how reproductive rights are also disability rights! You can listen to the episode here.

Support our work      Become a member

pen on paperUpdate: Disability Response to CDC Director a person editing a documentIACC Comments for 1/19/22 Meeting
a sign that says "we are hiring"Job Opening: Policy Director vigil candlesDay of Mourning Vigil Coordinator Sign-Up
ACI logoACI Applications Now Open!