Letter to The Editor
Published: Friday, November 18, 2011
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
My name is Alec Frazier, and I am the Resource Officer for the UB Diversity in Disability Planning Committee (DDPC). I take great issue with the article “Diversity in Disability” in Monday’s paper. Please note that I do not speak for the entire DDPC, and I do not wish to claim to do so. All opinions in this letter are my own and although they may be similar to those of others, I do not assign them to anyone else.
One change I’d recommend for the article: you may wish to mention that Ari Ne’eman is a Presidential Appointee – the first with autism and one of the youngest (he was confirmed in 2010 at age 22). He is the Policy and Evaluation Committee chair for the National Council on Disability.
In journalism class the first thing you are taught is to ask: “who, what, why, when, where, and how.”
The reporter most definitely did not bother to ask “who.” The article states “Alec Frazier, Hope Supernault, and Carly Skonecki – all UB students – assisted [David] Dodge in planning the symposium.” As David Dodge can tell you, we did NOT assist him. It was a collaborative effort with EVERYONE contributing an equal amount. For example, I was the one who came up with the symposium’s slogan, “Disability is not an obstacle; it’s a difference!” David’s fervent wish was that your reporter interview as many members of the DDPC as possible. He even ASKED the reporter to speak to more of us. She must have already made up her own mind, however.
Our titles in the DDPC were as follows: David Dodge, event coordinator; Carly Skonecki, club and student outreach officer; Alec Frazier, resource officer; and Hope Supernault, logistics officer.
This was completely a student initiative. Hundred percent. We, the DDPC, made all decisions and had absolutely no budget to begin with – all monies used in putting together the symposium were generous donations. However, the article does a gross disservice by stating: “UB’s Office of Accessibility Resources and the Diversity in Disability Planning Committee organized the event.” The Office of Accessibility Resources played a supporting role, under our – the DDPC’s – guidance. They certainly had no overriding veto and, in fact, had to abide by and carry out our decisions.
Last but not least, I personally take great issue with how the article was buried deep within the paper. Very deep. I looked for it on The Spectrum [website] for a good five minutes before finally giving up and doing a search of the website. I also take issue with the photo of the “person in the wheelchair.” That’s all she is to the readers of the article. Someone visibly disabled for us to pity, if we are inclined to do so. Believe it or not, she has a name – Stacey Milbern – and she is a wonderful person, regardless of what her body or mind can or cannot do. There is a diverse group of people with disabilities. That’s what our symposium is about. This was a very bad photo to choose. Perhaps you could have used a photo of the panel of many people we held to reflect DIVERSITY IN DISABILITY.
We in the DDPC know that Disability is not a “sexy” (i.e. marketable) form of diversity, and we had hoped to change people’s minds about the importance of disability rights. In my opinion, one person whom we clearly did not sway was the author.
Knowledge Group Member
VSA, the International Organization on Arts and Disability
The Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN)
UB Diversity in Disability Planning Committee (DDPC)