Disabilities can affect all aspects of life for those who have them, as well as for their families. But not all parts of our communities are set up to welcome and value individuals with disabilities. Churches, schools, media, community access—all of these sometimes contain structures that exclude, misconstrue, or devalue lives with disabilities, even if unintentionally. This two day conference aims to show how we can work to collectively restructure parts of our communities for the good of all.
Friday, January 18
“Inclusive Post-Secondary Education: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”
Antonio Contreras, Jennifer Camota Luebke, and Christopher Luebke
Abstract: After Jennifer helped a local school Christian school include her son Antonio in high school, she researched inclusive post-secondary options. There are currently 260 post-secondary colleges that have some level of programming for people who have intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), most of which have started within the last five years to address the 85% unemployment rate of people in this population. This talk will give an overview of the evolution of post-secondary colleges. Antonio, Jennifer, and Christopher will talk about their personal experiences in their family's journey in navigating inclusion at college.
Bios: Antonio is an intern for Congressman Ro Khanna, a Best Buddies ambassador, an aspiring actor and model, a three-point specialist, and a student in the Young Adult Program and Ohlone Community College in California. His parents, Dr. Jennifer Camota Luebke and Christopher Luebke are the co-founders of Ability Revolution, Inc., a not-for-profit organization that advances inclusion for people of all abilities in workplaces, schools, and communities. Their key initiatives are producing films and videos that change society's perspective on people who have (dis)ABILITIES, managing an inclusion scholarship program, and teaching communities how to think about inclusion using a Strengths-based approach.
“Ways We Witness: Disability and the Mission of the Church”
Abstract: What does it mean to be witnesses to the kingdom of God as part of a church that includes in its body people with disabilities and in a world where disabling conditions are an unsurprisingly normal aspect of human existence? What are some ways that the experience of disability can critique and enrich practices of Christian witness?
Bio: Benjamin Conner is Professor of Practical Theology and Director of the Graduate Certificate in Disability and Ministry at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, MI. He is author of Amplifying Our Witness: Giving Voice to Adolescents with Developmental Disabilities and Disabling Mission, Enabling Witness: Exploring Missiology through the Lens of Disability Studies.
“Stereotypical/Atypical: Depictions of Autism in Popular Media”
Abstract: Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are increasingly represented in film, television, and literature, but oftentimes, these representations reinforce negative stereotypes about children, adolescents, and adults with autism. This presentation will trace the history of these stereotypes in a range of popular media, beginning with the seminal 1988 film Rain Man and ending with Atypical, The Good Doctor, and other contemporary media. Along the way, we’ll examine several pervasive and harmful tropes and imagine how individuals with ASD and other neurodevelopmental disorders might be represented in a better world.
Bio: Robert Rozema is a Professor of English at Grand Valley State University. He is the author of Seeing the Spectrum: Teaching English Language Arts to Adolescents with Autism (Teachers College Press, 2018).