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May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month!

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Matrix is highlighting members of the AAPI community who have disabilities. These remarkable individuals are leaders in advocating for their communities.

All of us at Matrix Parent Network and Resource Center hope you enjoy this article that was researched and written by Hill Pashalides, one of our Parent Advisors. Historically, AAPI individuals with disabilities have faced a heavy stigma and structural barriers, such as translation, that have made it difficult to get services and support. The good news is that in our more recent history, organizations focused on the AAPI disabled community have been improving access to services, raising awareness and spotlighting individuals active in the community. To learn even more about the AAPI disability community visit our website.

Anna Wang at Friends of Children with Special Needs (FCSN)

Friends of Children with Special Needs logo

Nearly 30 years ago, Anna Wang’s son was diagnosed with autism and there was little support for Asian American families caring for children with disabilities in Silicon Valley. Along with 9 other families in 1996, she and her husband created a support network for Asian American people with disabilities and their families and it grew into FCSN. FCSN has become large organization serving over 1,500 families in the Bay Area (of which nearly half are Chinese American) with services that range from after-school activities to adult day programs.

Alice Wong at Disability Visibility Project (DVP)

From their website, “The Disability Visibility Project is an online community dedicated to creating, sharing, and amplifying disability media and culture.”. DVP was founded by activist and writer, Alice Wong. Alice has received numerous awards and recognition as a leader in her dedication to and advocacy in the broader disability community. She has also served as a presidential appointee on the National Council on Disability from 2013 to 2015. 

Jennifer Lee at The Asian Americans with Disabilities Initiative (AADI)

AADI was born of Jennifer Lee’s struggle with an autoimmune disease that left her subject to hospitalizations, surgery and ongoing treatment and her experience of anti-Asian racism at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. AADI’s mission as a youth-led nonprofit is to uplift the voices of Asian Americans with disabilities. 

Mia Ives Rublee at Disability Justice Initiative at the Center for American Progress (CAP)

Mia Ives-Rublee is the Director at the Disability Justice Initiative. Mia has won several awards for her work advocating for disability justice and inclusion. Mia’s past work has focused on access to disability accommodations and policy platforms considering the needs of the disability community. The goal of the Disability Justice Initiative is to help people of color with disabilities and people disempowered by ableism to have a voice in the economy and democracy of the United States.