[EDEQUITY Disability]Opening Statement by Eleanor Gil-Kashiwabara

From: Eleanor Gil-Kashiwabara (gilkashi@ohsu.edu)
Date: Mon Aug 19 2002 - 16:38:05 EDT

My name is Eleanor Gil-Kashiwabara and I am a Research Associate at Oregon
Health and Sciences University (OHSU)-Center on Self-Determination. I am
writing this opening statement on behalf of myself and my colleague Sarah
Geenen, who also works at the Center on Self-Determination. Sarah and I
will be participating in the discussion this week as a panelist team. The
OHSU-Center on Self-Determination identifies, develops and shares
approaches that promote the self-determination of people with disabilities
and ongoing health conditions. The Center is staffed by individuals with
expertise in disability and health issues, research and training. We work
closely with consumer groups, organizations, schools, and agencies to
develop model programs and public policies that support self-determination.
While we have a variety of funded programs and projects that address
educational and employment equity and disability, one of our projects, The
Gender and Transition Project, is especially relevant to this week's panel

The Gender and Transition Project is a 3-year study funded by the U.S.
Department of Education. The project is being implemented by the
OHSU-Center on Self-Determination, Portland Public Schools (in Oregon) and
Long Beach Unified School District (in California). Our core research team
includes myself, Sarah Geenen, and Laurie Powers of OHSU, as well as
Kristin Powers of California State University Long Beach. The purpose of
the project is to assess the quality of transition planning for young women
with disabilities, contrast their experiences with the nature of transition
planning for young men with disabilities, and identify strategies for
promoting their successful transition. Because of the limited information
available regarding the effect of gender on the quality of transition
planning for girls and young women in special education, it is hoped that
our results will begin to shed light on gender equity issues in relation to
transition planning. We are currently in the first year of our project.

While there is an alarming absence of information regarding the effect of
gender on the quality of transition planning for youth in special
education, there is information pertaining to outcomes for youth with
disabilities that suggests a need for evaluation of transition planning.
Youth with disabilities encounter numerous major barriers as they
transition from high school to life after high school. These barriers
include school drop-out, unemployment, and limited access to post-secondary
education. Women and girls with disabilities, however, are subject to the
"double jeopardy" of sexism and disability bias, resulting in additional
barriers to successful transition. For example, the higher rates of
unemployment in women with disabilities when compared to men with
disabilities, as well as the lower wages earned by women versus men with
disabilities are testimonies to these additional barriers.

As a major, integral goal, our study is especially committed to addressing
issues that are relevant to the experiences of minority girls with
disabilities, as they experience a third level of bias in the form of
racism. As a bilingual (Spanish-speaking) Latina professional in this
field, I have had a variety of experiences that have both provided insight
and caused me to further question a number of areas that pertain to the
intersection of disability, gender, and cross-cultural issues. These issues
include, but are not limited to the role of acculturation, test bias,
culturally sensitive services, cross-cultural definitions of disability,
and cross-cultural gender roles. On a more personal note, I also bring to
this panel discussion my experience as a Latina with partial deafness.

Sarah Geenen and I are very excited to be a part of this panel. We look
forward to the continued discussion throughout the week.

Eleanor Gil-Kashiwabara (Research Coordinator) <gilkashi@ohsu.edu>
Sarah Geenen (Principal Investigator)<geenens@ohsu.edu>
OHSU-Center on Self-Determination
Portland, OR

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