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Episode 40 -- Disability and Poverty
Recorded June 14, 2014. Disability rights activists Tom Wilson, Rene David Luna, and Susan Aarup explore the relation between disability and poverty. They touch on the issues of independent living, poverty programs that place barriers to employment, discrimination, the Americans with Disabilities Act, sub-minimum wages, and more.

Listen or (right click) Download: MP3 (31.1 MB) or OGG VORBIS (23.8 MB) (33:58)


Tom Wilson, Community Organizer, Health Care: Tom Wilson has worked at Access Living since 1990. He is passionate about moving people with disabilities out of nursing facilities and institutions and into the community. He has experience in Personal Assistant Services, deinstitutionalization, long term care and health care policy and in disability advocacy. Tom served for many years as Team Leader of the Personal Assistant Services and Health Care Team. Tom helped advocate for and develop the De-Institutionalization program that Access Living pioneered in 1997. He helped develop the Stepping Stones research and curriculum project in collaboration with faculty and students at the UIC Occupational Studies Department. 

Tom continues to do policy work on health care. He also focuses on community mobilization for systems change, and facilitates two consumer based advocacy groups: the Task Force for Attendant Services (TFAS) and Independent Voices.  Since 2010, Tom has been responsible for coordinating hundreds of consumers to advocate for disability rights in Springfield with state legislators.

Tom is a longtime board member of Health and Medicine Policy Research Group.

Rene David Luna became involved in the disability rights movement in the mid nineteen-eighties when he joined Chicago ADAPT in the struggle for accessible mainline public transportation. He's been working at Access Living since 1988 as an activist on many civil rights issues including: playing important roles in the passage of the Chicago Human Rights Ordinance, the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the CPS compliance with Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and other disability rights compliance issues. He is currently a community organizer dealing with employment and immigration issues. His main areas of interests include the history of social movements and oppression, community economic development, and Latino issues. In collaboration with a research team at Northwestern University, he recently completed a study looking at the social needs and access to services in the community of refugees with disabilities.

Susan Aarup is Co-Chair of Chicago ADAPT and Treasurer of Disabled Americans Want Work Now.

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