Incapacity Rights Advocates protest ableism after hidden digital camera discovered at East Excessive
About 35 people gathered outside the Capitol on Saturday afternoon to protest the ability to have a hidden camera set up in a room providing personal care for disabled students at East High School.
Madtown Mommas and Disability Advocates, a parent-run group, organized the event afterwards News broke that hidden cameras were discovered in East High School to catch a security guard sleeping at work. The cameras were hidden in two smoke detectors, one in a driver’s office in the boys’ changing room and one in a room where disabled students undress and have their incontinence pads changed.
Although the cameras violated district guidelines, Madison police concluded that no crime had been committed. The district’s internal investigation, led by a local law firm, is taking place, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.
Saturday’s attendees walked around Capitol Square several times, holding signs, and partying in chants like “Dignity for All,” “My Needs Are Not Special,” “End Capability Now,” and “Diversity Is A Fact, Inclusion Is One Plot. “
Autumn Neugent, a disability rights attorney and former Ms. Wheelchair Wisconsin 2019, said the hidden cameras were evidence of “fundamental human rights violations.” She also criticized isthmus for the wording used in theirs reportingand called it “dehumanizing language”.
Mattie Reese, a member of Madtown Mommas, said the main aim of the rally was to raise awareness of the incident, specifically the fact that one of the cameras was aimed at students with disabilities.
“[The incident at East High School] really worried us because one of us could have been on that camera, ”said Reese. “We just want to make sure these things don’t happen and aren’t swept under the rug.”
Reese said although she has seen some progress, she still believes that MMSD needs to work more with the community to better understand the needs of disabled students.
Martha Siravo, one of the founders of Madtown Mommas, said she was disappointed with the district’s “consistent inconsistency” in addressing the needs of disabled students. Siarvo said she had heard from families that IEPs were not being met and felt that special education was not approached in the same way as general education.
“We focus on skill awareness because we don’t talk about it at the table,” said Siravo. “We are only talked about it quietly. So we’re going to talk about general Ed in the public sense, but when we talk about specific Ed and things like that, it’s going to be treated separately. “
Siravo said the segregation from special education is a “systemic problem” but she is optimistic about moving forward with the district’s new superintendent who has shown support for the special education program.
Nicki Vander Meulen, a board member at Madison Metropolitan School, said while advocating for disabled students she feels she needs community support to make change happen.
“I’m a person, I need the community, and Madtown Mommas is probably what it takes to finally convey that we need change,” said Vander Meulen.
Ultimately, Siravo said that the goal of Madtown Mommas is not just to make change, but to keep it going.
“We are here to hopefully start the change. [But] We are also here to support implementation and hold them accountable to make these changes and to recognize our children with dignity and respect and the support they need, ”Siravo said.