The Power and Art of AAC: Disrupting Racism, Ableism, and Oppression

On June 20, 2022, the evening after Juneteenth, CommunicationFIRST Policy Director Bob Williams, and CommunicationFIRST Advisory Council member Devva Kasnitz moderated this 90-minute online event called The Power and Art of AAC: Disrupting Racism, Ableism, and Oppression - A Conversation with Three Generations of Award-Winning Artists and Activists, joined by CommunicationFIRST Board member Lateef McLeod and Advisory Council member DJ Savarese. The event generated a lot of interest, with over 250 people registered from at least 29 different US states and 15 different countries, including Tanzania, Chile, Singapore, and Croatia.

We are pleased to share the open-captioned, ASL-interpreted recording of the event, along with a transcript and audio-only version, below. 


  • BOB WILLIAMS is CommunicationFIRST's Policy Director. He co-founded CommunicationFIRST in 2019 after a distinguished four-decade career in federal and state government and the nonprofit sector, most recently as Director of the US Independent Living Administration at the US Department of Health and Human Services. He is a nationally recognized leader on policy issues relating to supporting people with the most significant disabilities to live, work, and thrive in their own homes and communities. He has a degree in urban affairs from George Washington University.
  • DEVVA KASNITZ is an internationally recognized scholar. She was a founding member of the Society for Disability Studies, serving on its Board, and later as its Executive Director. Devva is a medical anthropologist by training, having earned her PhD at the University of Michigan, and has mentored a generation of disability scholars. She is an adjunct professor of disability studies at the City University of New York.
  • LATEEF MCLEOD is a Black disabled scholar, poet, author, and activist. He is a performance artist with the Sins Invalid Theater in the California Bay Area, and has performed at venues in New York City and elsewhere. Lateef is pursuing his PhD in Anthropology and Social Change; his BA in English is from UC Berkeley, and his MFA in creative writing is from Mills College. Committed to bringing about equity and social justice, he is a visionary, and co-hosts the podcast Black Disabled Men Talk. He is featured in the See Us, Hear Us video series.
  • DJ SAVARESE is a self-described “artful activist,” writer, teacher, filmmaker, and public scholar. He is the Director of the Lives-in-Progress Collective, and is the co-Chair of the Alliance for Citizen Directed Supports, committed to meaningful, inclusive, self-directed lives for all. DJ double-majored in creative writing and anthropology at Oberlin College. He co-produced and was the subject of the Peabody award-winning, Emmy-nominated documentary Deej: Inclusion Shouldn’t Be a Lottery (2017).