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OFF-KILTER with Rebecca Vallas

Jul 22, 2022

July marks the thirty-second anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, as it’s better known—the landmark civil rights law that promised equal opportunity and economic security for Americans with disabilities. As we’ve talked about a lot on this show over the years, as important as it is to celebrate how far we’ve come in the decades since the ADA became part of the fabric of American life, every time we hit the month of July, it’s even more important to acknowledge how far will still have to go to achieve the as-yet unfulfilled promises of the ADA

And that’s why this July, Off-Kilter is once again spending all month long having conversations with leaders from across the disability community.

To continue that series of conversations, this week we’re taking a deep dive into the criminalization of disability in America—and how we got to a place where people behind bars in prisons and jails are three to four times more likely to have a disability than the general population. And to unpack the intersection of criminal justice and disability justice, Rebecca sat down with a panel of incredible leaders from two organizations working at this nexus: Access Living, a longtime leader in the disability rights and justice space that works to build a world free from barriers and discrimination for all disabled people, and Activating Change, a new organization that recently spun off from the Vera Institute of Justice to center people with disabilities in reforming and reenvisioning the nation’s criminal justice system. 

This week’s guests are: Candace Coleman, racial justice organizer at Access Living; Nancy Smith, executive director of Activating Change; Olga Trujillo, Director of Leadership Development, Visibility and Collective Healing at Activating Change; and Keith Jones, President and CEO of SoulTouchin’ Experience and a consultant who works closely with Activating Change.

Editor’s note: The Century Foundation is thrilled to have Access Living and Activating Change as members of the Disability Economic Justice Collaborative, which you can learn more about at

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