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Black Parents Matter:

How Families Experience and Navigate Disability Services

General Session
Saturday April 30, 2022

"In my work with the team, I let them know that I was not interested in the school-to-prison pipeline. For me, it’s not just about my son, because I know that he will get his needs met because I am that type of parent; but what about the kids like my son whose parents don’t know and don’t have the resources to make sure that their child is learning and will not end up in the school to prison pipeline." African American mom of 7 year old son

"I" or "We" (racialized experience)

Description: While most persons with developmental disabilities face multiple challenges and barriers to independent and fulfilling lives, African Americans with disabilities face the dual challenge of race and disability discrimination that is often not considered or overlooked within educational systems and across systems of service that they seek to gain support. The impact can be felt in the inequities in diagnosis rate, lack or denial of benefits, and quality of care that many Black families experience.


This session provides a discussion of the historic and contemporary challenges, successes, and lessons learned from the lived experience of Black parents. The presenters share their perspectives directly with service providers and other professionals on issues around anti-Black racism and disability discrimination. They will provide examples of their encounters with systems, including preparing children for a world where racial discrimination persists, building alternative communities of support, and shepherding children into adulthood. Panelists will discuss alternative measures they devised that can help interrupt cycles of discrimination and disadvantage.

Panelists: Rya Williams, Terry Williams, Al-Nisa Lawson-Herod, Shea Cleveland
Moderator: Dr. Layla D. Brown

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