DIEP RRTC

Episode 14: Envisioning a Future of Disability Inclusion

Lydia X. Z. Brown has seen initiative after initiative and has grown frustrated with the lack of investment in human potential and the emphasis on a social services system that continues to trap many people with disabilities in poverty. Brown, director of public policy at the National Disability Institute, joins the show to discuss the disability benefits system and how to address the socioeconomic issues that most prominently impact disabled people. They discuss how there are reasons that the unemployment rate for disabled people is double than it is for nondisabled people and why there is a significantly higher disability poverty rate compared to the rate for people without disabilities, whether it is policies that make it difficult for disabled people to get ahead as nondisabled people do or policies that actively trap disabled people in poverty.

At the same time, more specific measures at individual workplaces are also creating barriers for people with disabilities. In an era where corporations publicly embrace diversity and inclusion, many are also utilizing artificial intelligence in general operations and specifically during the hiring processes. While it is often used for productivity purposes, it can also be discriminatory in how it sorts through applications. Brown fears that the use of artificial intelligence will blur the lines of discrimination even more, since it is difficult to prove that artificial intelligence provokes disability discrimination and employers will never admit it. They believe that artificial intelligence must become a larger discussion of not only corporate and employer responsibility but also regulatory responsibility.

However, policies are only a part of the equation, Brown says. Disabled people face discrimination and bias in individual relationships each day, and it influences nearly everything they set out to do. And in order to even consider policy change, there must be attitude change. They point to the Disability Justice movement, which recognizes that law and policy cannot provide a full transformation of social structures that enable and enforce discriminatory and harmful laws and policies.

Lydia X. Z. Brown
Lydia X. Z. Brown
director of public policy at the National Disability Institute
Michael Morris
Michael Morris
Podcast Moderator, Burton Blatt Institute, Syracuse University

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