Kathy Martinez: Disability Rights

April 28, 2021

Kathy Martinez

The social model of disability, which is a way of viewing the world developed by people with different mental and physical abilities, is the idea that society disables physically impaired people by assuming everyone experiences life in the same way. By not accounting for people’s differences, one of which is physical impairments,  we inadvertently exclude people from fully participating in day to day activities. 

This can include structural barriers, like not having access to handicap accessible toilets, or social barriers, like holding negative attitudes and behaviors toward people with impairments. 

When it comes to disability rights, the shift that each of us can make is from viewing people as disabled by their differences to being disabled by the barriers they encounter in society. By viewing disability in this way, we can begin to tackle ableism and start to identify all the barriers that prevent people with impairments from having equal opportunities in life. 

Over 50 million Americans live with disabilities, and the disability rights movement is focused on securing equal rights and equal opportunities for people with different physical and mental abilities. 

In today’s episode we are joined by Kathy Martinez, an internationally recognized disability rights leader and the President and CEO of Disability Rights Advocates, a United States nonprofit legal center that works to advance disability rights. Kathy is the former SVP, Head of Disability and Accessibility Strategy for Wells Fargo. She was born blind along with her sister, and has been an advocate for people with disabilities for most of her career.  

Along with Kathy, we unpack how the disability rights movement is working to remove the institutional, physical, and societal barriers people with disabilities face. We will also share specific actions each of us can take to ensure that we create a society where people with disabilities are free to live their lives like anyone else.