NDSU: OUR FIRST YEAR FEBRUARY 21, 2002


INTRODUCTION

What follows is a lengthy summary of the National Disabled Students
Union's activities during our first year of existence. To make this
summary more broadly accessible, we have provided an outline of the
various summary sections at the beginning of the document. The summary
will be posted on the web at http://www.birdnest.org/hallj1/ndsu.html

OUR HISTORY/PREDECESSORS
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE
ADVOCACY/DIRECT-ACTION UPDATE
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE
ORGANIZATIONAL STATUS/STRUCTURE
OTHER ORGANIZATIONAL OPTIONS
NDSU NATIONAL OFFICE
DEVELOPING A MISSION AND STRATEGIC PLAN
NDSU MEMBERSHIP/LEADERSHIP
ACCESS UPDATE
NDSU WEB SITE
FINANCIAL STATUS
THE BRAID NEWSLETTER
LISTSERV UPDATE
LEADERSHIP IN CHALLENGING DISCRIMINATION WITHIN THE MAINSTREAM DISABILITY
CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT AND WITHIN THE LEFT
IDEAS FOR THE FUTURE


OUR HISTORY/PREDECESSORS

NDSU's historical model is the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee
(SNCC), a radical student organization that was one of the strongest
forces for social change in the United States during the civil rights
movement of the 1960s. On April 17, 2001, exactly 41 years after SNCC
was founded, the newly-formed NDSU organized the Leave Out for Equal
Justice, a coordinated demonstration of our opposition to the Supreme
Court's elevation of states' rights over our civil rights in the Garrett
decision.

Like our predecessors in SNCC, we recognized the need for a concerted,
nationwide response that would put the Supreme Court and the rest of the
American public on notice that we would accept nothing less than full
participation, full justice, and the full dignity and respect that we
deserve as equal human beings -- basic civil rights which had been
painstakingly won by those who came before us, and rights we refuse to
see weakened in any way.

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE:

The success of the Leave Out for Equal Justice proved our ability to
effectively mobilize on a national level. However, after the Leave Out,
the question remained as to what we would do next. NDSU is fortunate to
count among its first members disability rights leaders Barb Bechdol and
Bruce Wolfe. Soon after the Leave Out, Bruce and Barb shared some
wonderful thoughts with us on how NDSU can organize most effectively,
including holding a truly accessible meeting of our national membership.
Some of the original text from their messages is contained in this
section.

ADVOCACY/DIRECT-ACTION UPDATE:

On April 17, 2001, disabled students and our allies across the United
States participated in NDSU's Leave Out, protesting the Garrett decision
and the Supreme Court's pattern of weakening civil rights protections in
the name of "states' rights." Though only nine-weeks-old at the time,
NDSU had already attracted students from more than sixty primary and
secondary schools and colleges and universities.

Six months later, five members of the NDSU Action Team met in San
Francisco and decided to start planning another national action to
protest the injustice of disabled students still being segregated by a
separate and unequal educational system. Like the Leave Out, this action
will provide the opportunity for NDSU members and our allies to get
involved at both the local and national levels. The NDSU Action Team
has also been discussing the possibility of creating a traveling,
direct-action student network within NDSU who will take our organization
directly to our people.

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE:

Over the last year, our member-led advocacy efforts have focused on six
bills and one judicial nomination. NDSU joined the rest of the
disability rights community in speaking out against the nomination of
Jeffrey Sutton. NDSU's actions helped postpone confirmation hearings for
Sutton in the Judiciary Committee, giving civil rights advocates ample
opportunity to document Sutton's record of judicial activism and make a
case as to why he lacks the temperament to administer fair and impartial
justice to plaintiffs bringing civil rights cases against state
agencies.

ORGANIZATIONAL STATUS/STRUCTURE
OTHER ORGANIZATIONAL OPTIONS:

After extensive research, including discussions with other progressive
organizers, the NDSU Action Team has decided that it is not in NDSU's
best interest to adopt a formal non-profit structure or obtain a fiscal
sponsor at this time. These two sections detail the process involved in
reaching that decision.

NDSU NATIONAL OFFICE:

The NDSU National Office is based at Access Living. The contact
information for the office is: NDSU, c/o Access Living of Metropolitan
Chicago, 614 West Roosevelt Road, Chicago, IL 60607, Voice:
312-253-7000, Fax: 312-253-7001, TTY 312-253-0332, Web site:
<ndsu@disabledstudents.org>.

DEVELOPING A MISSION AND STRATEGIC PLAN:

This section provides the full text of NDSU's original mission
statement, and discusses some options for how we can refine and revise
our mission and strategic plan.

NDSU MEMBERSHIP/LEADERSHIP:

Because of the multitude of economic barriers that students with
disabilities and our allies face, NDSU does not charge dues. Our
organization is run by the NDSU Action Team. Anyone who identifies as a
disabled student can join the Action Team as long as s/he is willing to
contribute in some way.

ACCESS UPDATE:

100% accessibility has been one of NDSU's primary goals from its
inception. Happily, we expect to soon receive the funding to take the
practical measures needed to implement this goal. This section details
our plans and past frustrations in attempting to become accessible to
everyone.

NDSU WEB SITE:

This is a discussion of the history of our web site and listserv, some
of the barriers that we have encountered, the steps we are taking toward
removing those barriers, and some other possible options for further web
site development in the future.

FINANCIAL STATUS:

A brief outline of the monetary contributions NDSU has received to date.

THE BRAID NEWSLETTER:

Late last spring, we began development of The Braid, a quarterly student
periodical. Efforts were halted by the lack of accessibility. As a
result, the newsletter discussion became a research project on
accessible communication. Plans for The Braid are suspended until
accessibility issues have been resolved.

LISTSERV UPDATE:

Our listserv currently has 230 members from all over the globe. We use
this Internet messaging system to communicate with other NDSU members
and update each other about current court cases; discuss activities that
disabled students may want to read, learn, and participate in; and
spread other relevant information about disability issues. It is also a
place to connect and network with other students who are interested in
disability issues. Issues arose very early concerning the accessibility
of the listserv, and we are working to address those issues effectively.

LEADERSHIP IN CHALLENGING DISCRIMINATION WITHIN THE MAINSTREAM DISABILITY
CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT AND WITHIN THE LEFT:

SNCC was highly critical of the mainstream civil rights movement. In the
same way, NDSU has taken the lead in challenging the mainstream
disability civil rights movement and pushing it to live up to the ideals
it preaches. In December of last year, NDSU members Laura Obara and
Sarah Triano wrote a critique of the mainstream disability civil rights
movement and the way in which it leaves out key groups of people with
disabilities that was widely published throughout the nation.

IDEAS FOR THE FUTURE:

While NDSU is committed to removing the barriers to access within our
organization before undertaking full-scale planning efforts, the
enthusiasm, creativity and skills of our membership have resulted in the
proposal of some exciting ideas for the future, including organizing a
national meeting in the fall, expanding into an international
organization, and developing an online Disability Studies bookstore that
would both help empower our members and generate revenue for NDSU.

END OF OUTLINE


BEGINNING OF FULL SUMMARY

NDSU ORGANIZATIONAL UPDATE:

Note: The following section is a brief overview of our history and
historical role models. You can go directly to the first update by
searching for the text, "ADVOCACY/DIRECT-ACTION UPDATE."

OUR HISTORY/PREDECESSORS:

On February 1, 1960, four students from North Carolina Agricultural and
Technical College went into the downtown Woolworth's, sat at the lunch
counter, and refused to move when they were denied service on the basis
of their skin color. Within weeks, hundreds of students followed this
example and staged sit-ins at lunch counters across the country.

Although these acts of non-violent protest seem fairly simple by today's
standards, one prescient leader at the time, Ella Baker, recognized them
for what they were: the beginning indications of a revolution of
empowerment that would propel the issue of racial discrimination into
the consciousness of mainstream America, and thereby further the civil
rights movement started decades before by Baker and her predecessors.

Acting on this recognition, Baker immediately secured eight hundred
dollars from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in order to
bring student leaders together for a two-day conference at Shaw
University, which resulted in the founding, on April 17, 1960, of what
would become one of the strongest forces for social change in the 1960s
the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).

THE REVOLUTION CONTINUES:

Exactly 41 years later, on April 17, 2001, student leaders with
disabilities across the country kicked off the founding of the National
Disabled Students Union (NDSU) -- the first nationwide, cross-disability
student organization in US history, -- with a coordinated demonstration
of our opposition to the Supreme Court's elevation of states' rights
over our civil rights in its decision in the Board of Trustees of the
University of Alabama, et al. v. Garrett, et al.

Like our predecessors in SNCC, we recognized the need for a concerted,
nationwide response that would put the Supreme Court and the rest of the
American public on notice that we would accept nothing less than full
participation, full justice, and the full dignity and respect that we
deserve as equal human beings -- basic civil rights which had been
painstakingly won by those who came before us, and rights we refuse to
see weakened in any way.

We refuse to take it anymore, so instead, we took our fight to the
streets by leaving our classes, homes, and jobs on April 17, 2001 in
protest.

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE:

With the success of the Leave Out for Equal Justice, NDSU proved our
ability to effectively mobilize on a national level. After the Leave
Out, however, the question remained as to where we would go from here.
In her book, Freedom's Daughters, Lynne Olson writes the following of
the student sit-in leaders of the 60s: "One month after the sit-ins
began, there seemed to be no communication among the scattered groups of
demonstrators, no idea of joining together and forming one potent source
of mass protest" (p. 148).

It was at this point, according to Olson, that Ella Baker stepped in and
suggested the meeting at Shaw University for the purpose of uniting the
students and defining an organizational structure. Similarly, Bruce
Wolfe sent a message to the NDSU list asking for feedback on, "having a
national conference but in a way that for those who cannot travel or are
lacking funds to travel to be able to access to all of the events and
workshops that would happen through the Internet by using streaming
media, chat rooms, etc."

At the same time, Barb Bechdol wrote the following to the NDSU list:

"NDSU follows a long and illustrious tradition of student groups
kick-starting revolutions. NDSU needs to:

"1. Mobilize disabled students and increase membership at new and old
member schools.

"2. Involve other disabled activists.

"3. Form coalitions with other progressive minority groups with civil
rights agendas.

"4. Hit the establishment with such a large multi-faceted bloc that
change results.

"Random Thoughts:

"PWDs and others "get it" at different levels.

"Old timers put some good things in place. Don't re-invent the wheel.

"New ideas and new blood are sorely needed.

"The Braid is a very powerful symbol!

"Gathering people with disabilities in one physical space is a
monumental undertaking. Involve those who succeeded.

"Make sure people stuck at home or locked up can participate
(phone/online/?)"

Inspired by Bruce and Barb's calls to action, members of the NDSU Action
Team immediately started working to put the infrastructure in place that
we would need to carry out such actions and goals.

ADVOCACY/DIRECT-ACTION UPDATE:

At 1:00 pm EST on Tuesday, April 17, 2001, hundreds of disabled students
across the United States participated in NDSU's Leave Out by
simultaneously leaving our classes, homes, and jobs to protest the
Garrett decision and the Supreme Court's pattern of weakening civil
rights protections in the name of "states' rights." Though only
nine-weeks-old, NDSU had already attracted students from more than sixty
primary and secondary schools and colleges and universities. The
enormous success of the Leave Out was recognized in many publications,
including "New Mobility," "Mouth Magazine" and "iCan Online."

Since that time, two arms seem to have emerged within NDSU: one arm
working primarily within the system on legislative and other issues; and
another arm working primarily outside the system (or rather putting
pressure on the system) through direct action and advocacy efforts.

In October of 2001, five members of the NDSU Action Team met in San
Francisco and decided to start planning another national action to
protest the fact that disabled students of all ages and at all grade
levels are still being offered separate and unequal education. Like the
Leave Out, this action will provide the opportunity for NDSU members and
our allies to get involved at both the local and national levels. If you
would like to be more involved in the discussions regarding this action,
please contact Jessie Lorenz at jessie@ilrcsf.org.

In addition to planning for a large, national action, the NDSU Action
Team has also been seriously discussing the possibility of creating a
traveling, direct-action student network within NDSU that will take the
organization to the people in order to:

1. Support the development of local, grassroots leadership;
2. Facilitate coordinated action by local groups; and
3. Specifically organize locally around situations where students with
disabilities and other members of our community are subjected to
discrimination.

We realized from the start that this traveling group of activists would
need to be not only cross-disability, but also cross-movement based. As
such, Joe Hall and Sarah Triano attended the National Conference on
Organized Resistance in January 2002 to try to start building ties to
other radical movements across the United States.

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE:

NDSU has been very active over the last year on the legislative front,
and looks forward to facing new challenges and applying new strategies
in the year to come. Over the last year, our member-led advocacy efforts
have focused on six bills and one judicial nomination. Thanks to our
dedicated members, we have made great strides; however, we still have
much more to accomplish.

NDSU joined the rest of the disability rights community in speaking out
against the nomination of Jeffrey Sutton. NDSU's actions helped
postpone confirmation hearings for Sutton in the Judiciary Committee,
giving civil rights advocates ample opportunity to document Sutton's
record of judicial activism and make a case as to why he lacks the
temperament to administer fair and impartial justice to plaintiffs
bringing civil rights cases against state agencies.

However, in the wake of 9-11, the White House and Senate Republicans are
trying to use the war against terrorism to advance judicial nominations.
Latest reports indicate that the Senate might make a move on Sutton
sometime this year. Therefore, it is important that we continue to
contact our senators and remind them that Sutton's nomination still
poses a threat to the civil rights and equal protection of millions of
disabled Americans.

Since 2002 is an election year for all 435 members of the House of
Representatives and for 34 Senators, we need to make certain that our
issues take center stage. Please help us make sure that our issues are
up front and readily apparent to both the media and candidates. We must
get Senator Dodd's Voting Rights Bill passed in the Senate and ensure
that its access provisions are incorporated in the reconciliation voting
rights bill and enacted as law. We also will continue to work to ensure
that MiCASSA and the Homebound Clarification Act become law, and that
Olmstead is carried out in good faith. We must also fight against the
ADA Notification Act, and make sure that if it is reintroduced it dies
in committee, like it did last session.

Over the last year NDSU has relied on its members to do the bulk of the
advocacy work on the legislative front. Most members have sent letters
to their representatives. Others have used e-mail, faxes and phone
calls. All of these methods are very important and very valuable.
Because our membership does the bulk of the work, the Action Team is
interested in your ideas on how we may better serve you and keep you
informed and on possible new strategies or advocacy issues for the
future.

Please e-mail Joe Hall at hallj1@winthrop.edu with any thoughts or
suggestions you might have.

ORGANIZATIONAL STATUS/STRUCTURE:

501c3:

One of the first issues NDSU tackled was whether or not to become a
non-profit organization. After much consideration, the Action Team has
decided that it is in NDSU's best interest to forego a formal corporate
or fiscal structure at this time.

Early on, Maureen Horowitz, Laura Obara and Sarah Triano did quite a bit of
research into non-profit status and the legal and fiscal requirements of
forming/maintaining non-profit structures.

Sarah Triano and Laura Obara spoke with many people who are currently
running non-profits, most of whom concurred that the process of becoming
a 501c3 was valuable because it helped define the organizations goals,
purpose, and mission, and provided an incentive for tax-deductible
donations.

However, they also said that, during the first two to five years, at
least 25% of their organization's time went into the bureaucracy and
paperwork legally required to maintain a non-profit, taking time away
from more valuable activities, such as direct action and response.
Several people who NDSU members consulted said that it was not
advantageous to form a 501c3 until an organization was well established
and had enough money to hire someone to handle the additional work.

In January 2002, Joe Hall and Sarah Triano attended the National
Conference on Organized Resistance in Washington, DC. While there, Joe
and Sarah learned how other radical organizations are structured in
order to operate effectively and legally without buying into the
philosophy or participating in actions that further corporate
domination.

History also informed our decision not to pursue 501c3 status at this
time. SNCC was very political and had members all over the country.
Action Team members wondered how SNCC did it and what their
organizational structure was conducted further research. Thanks to an
FBI file on SNCC that Sarah Triano uncovered, NDSU members were able to
view some of SNCC's primary source documents. What we learned is that
SNCC was never a formal, legal organization, much less a 501c3, and
therein lay a great deal of SNCC's power.

Becoming a 501c3 would also place certain restrictions on our political
activities Since NDSU is an overtly political organization, the Action
Team decided that it would not be in NDSU's best interest to impose
these limitations on our activities.

Sarah Triano has begun the process of obtaining a tax identification
number for NDSU and opening a bank account at a community bank in
Chicago so that NDSU can maintain the least restrictive structure
allowed by law. Should we decide to become a 501c3 in the future, Howard
Rosenblum, a Chicago-area attorney with a disability, has graciously
offered to assist us in that effort.

OTHER ORGANIZATIONAL OPTIONS:

Several other organizational structures were also explored, including
becoming a 501c4 and obtaining a fiscal sponsor. Access Living of
Metropolitan Chicago (a center for independent living) indicated a
possible interest in becoming NDSU's fiscal agent/fiscal sponsor.
(Fiscal agents receive tax-deductible donations on behalf of
organizations that do not have non-profit status.)

Members of the NDSU Leadership Action Team met with Access Living
representatives on Monday, January 14th to discuss this possibility.
During the meeting, it was conveyed to members of the NDSU Action Team
that, for Access Living to help in this way, NDSU would understandably
have to abide by Access Living's guidelines for handling money,
including deferring to Access Living in the event of competition for
funding. Access Living would also become legally liable for NDSU and the
actions of NDSU.

Members of the NDSU Action Team felt that this would obstruct NDSU's
ability to perform and operate the way we must to effectively pursue our
goals. We decided that, since part of NDSU's power is our autonomy,
fiscal sponsorship would require relinquishing too much of this
autonomy. Therefore, the NDSU Action Team decided not to pursue
acquiring a fiscal sponsor at this time.

NDSU NATIONAL OFFICE:

Soon after NDSU was founded, Access Living of Metropolitan Chicago
offered us a temporary space, a place to call home. The NDSU National
Office is currently based at Access Living and will continue to be until
we have generated enough funds to secure our own office space. The
contact information for the office is: NDSU, c/o Access Living of
Metropolitan Chicago, 614 West Roosevelt Road, Chicago, IL 60607.
312-253-7000, 312-253-7001 (fax), and 312-253-0332 (tty),
ndsu@disabledstudents.org.

DEVELOPING A MISSION AND STRATEGIC PLAN:

Before the Leave Out in April, we wrote the following mission statement
for NDSU:

"The National Disabled Students Union (NDSU) is a nationwide,
cross-disability, student organization. We recognize all disabled people
- those with traditionally recognized disabilities and those who have
often been left out of the movement - as our brothers and sisters, and
we recognize all students - those who work to learn, whether or not they
are at recognized schools - as our colleagues.

"NDSU was founded on February 21, 2001 in response to the US Supreme
Court decision limiting the enforcement of Title I of the 1990 Americans
with Disabilities Act (Board of Trustees of the University of Alabama,
et al. v. Garrett, et al.). Students with disabilities throughout the
United States recognize the far-reaching impact of this decision, and we
oppose the Supreme Court's pattern of undercutting civil rights
legislation in America. Although the Garrett decision still requires
the states to treat disabled and non-disabled employees equally, it
makes enforcement more difficult.

"The US Supreme Court has weakened other civil rights laws besides the
ADA (including the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and the Violence
Against Women Act), and we are concerned about this trend. We wonder
whose rights are next and how long we will have the guarantee of
equality. We are committed to everyone's right to equal protection
under the law and equal rights within society, and we don't want to wake
up a year or a decade from now wishing we'd acted earlier.

"We recognized the need for a concerted, nation-wide response that would
put the Supreme Court and the rest of the American public on notice that
students with disabilities in this country will no longer accept
anything less than full participation, full equality, full justice, and
the full dignity and respect that we (and all people) deserve as equal
human beings. Therefore, on Tuesday, April 17, 2001, we came together
with our allies in a nationwide demonstration of our opposition to the
Court's actions.

"We will mobilize and organize students with disabilities throughout the
nation in order to continue the legacy of empowerment and community
solidarity that is our heritage. As one of the great leaders of our
movement, Justin Dart, once said, 'We are here, we are united, and we
are proud.' We will work to ensure that all disabled students have the
opportunities they need to learn, the opportunities they need to live
and work, and the opportunities they need to be full participants in
their communities and full members of American society."

It has been almost a year since we wrote this Mission Statement, and
there is a definite need to go over it and make revisions where
necessary. In addition, we have yet to go through a formal process of
developing a strategic plan to outline NDSU's goals and tactics. A
leadership coach by the name of John Mitchell has offered to assist NDSU
in this effort. Mr. Mitchell runs the Purple Coach, a business that has
garnered national acclaim for successfully empowering individuals and
organizations to develop their leadership potential. He comes highly
recommended by Public Allies of Chicago and several people at Access
Living, and has generously offered to do a few strategy sessions with
NDSU at no charge.

NDSU MEMBERSHIP/LEADERSHIP:

One of the first issues the Action Team addressed was whether or not
NDSU should charge membership dues. It was unanimously agreed that,
because of the multitude of economic barriers that students with
disabilities and our allies face, NDSU should not charge membership
dues.

This decision was also historically informed by SNCC's choice not to
become a formal, membership organization. (In other words, its members
didn't pay dues and get some card or trinket.) Like SNCC, the NDSU
Action Team believes that it is to our organization's advantage to make
membership as independent of economic status as we possibly can.
Therefore, when Matt Grillot and Sarah Triano created a formal brochure
for NDSU, they included a membership form for purposes of recruiting and
maintaining contact with NDSU members, but filling out the form will
never result in a solicitation for dues or funds of any kind. If you
would like a copy of the brochure, please contact the NDSU national
office. We hope to have it online very soon as well.

We have also recently begun efforts to recruit more NDSU members to the
Action Team. The Action Team is comprised of the volunteers who are
responsible for running NDSU. We appreciate that everyone's time is
precious -Being a part of the Action Team is not a 24-hour/7-day-a-week
job, nor is it dependent upon computer access, verbal communication, or
ability to physically attend meetings. Anyone who identifies as a
disabled student can join the Action Team as long as s/he is willing to
contribute in some way. If you have an interest or skill that you would
like to share with NDSU, please send an e-mail to
ndsu@disabledstudents.org, or call 312-253-7000 x 200.


ACCESS UPDATE:

Right from the start, NDSU has tried to maintain a policy of "if
everyone cannot participate, then no one will participate." This has
resulted in a long delay in many efforts until everyone's access needs
can be met. As a new, volunteer-run organization, we soon discovered
that our progress was seriously impeded by the lack of published
materials addressing the access requirements of people who have
traditionally been excluded from the disability rights movement.
Unfortunately, many members who had generously contributed their time
and creativity to NDSU and the organization of the Leave Out
understandably left NDSU when their access requirements were not
effectively addressed, and because some NDSU members behaved in ways that
were disrespectful of others' needs regarding accessible communication.

As a result of Daniel Davis graciously volunteering to donate his Hearne
Award to NDSU, we are about to receive funding that will empower us to
begin to make NDSU accessible to everyone. During our January 20, 2002
membership meeting, it was decided that access is to be a top budgetary
priority. To this end, we are currently seeking to hire consultants who
have made advances in the field of accessible communication. It is our
goal that these consultants will establish procedures that NDSU members
can then refine and maintain. We need to put together an accommodations
committee within NDSU that can address these issues as they arise, and
also be proactive in our efforts.

What follows is a history of some of the barriers we encountered early
on.

Soon after the Leave Out, we were holding online, weekly chat meetings.
At first, we used Microsoft's Instant Messenger which proved to be
inaccessible for participants with learning disabilities, so we switched
to AOL AIM, which proved to be inaccessible for participants using
screen readers. At that point, we tried using TRIPIL, which was
inaccessible for people who could not type as quickly as others. In
addition, it was brought to our attention that the times we were holding
the chats were inaccessible for younger members who needed to go to
school early the next morning. We decided to suspend our weekly chat
meetings until we could resolve these conflicting access needs and find
a medium accessible for all.

Issues also arose concerning the accessibility of the listserv.
Participants were sending articles to the list in complicated language
that was difficult to understand. When asked to translate these articles
into language that was easy to understand, many participants refused and
ended up dropping off the list.

An accommodation request was also made to have everyone use list topics.
When participants refused to comply with this request, members of the
NDSU Action Team put a halt to all listserv activity. Since that time,
more people have been making an effort to use list topics, but we still
need to work on that area. The list is currently being moderated to
assist members in making sure they are using the list topic function
correctly, and Action Team members are discussing changing the topic
titles to titles that will be more readily understood by everyone.

Another accessibility issue that has come up is the issue of economic
access. Many students with disabilities and other potential members of
NDSU do not have access to computers and the Internet. Since we are
still primarily an online organization, we have yet to become accessible
to many potential members.

NDSU WEB SITE:

Prior to the Leave Out, Stephanie Takemoto, Sarah Triano, and Catherine
Alfieri developed a very basic NDSU web site for press and informational
purposes. At the time, we were able to complete these efforts and
purchase the domain name www.disabledstudents.org with a $400
contribution we received from the Kids as Self Advocates (KASA). We were
not able to do much else with the web site, however, due to a lack of
funding, expertise, and time.

We will soon receive the funding to pay for the creation of a permanent
NDSU web site that would be accessible and include, among other things,
an accessible and user-friendly discussion board and other online
organizing tools. The volume of messages sent to the NDSU listserv is
overwhelming for many. The use of a discussion board where people could
post articles, network, and engage in conversations without adding to
the volume of e-mails sent to the NDSU listserv would help address this
barrier.

Joe Hall has contacted the American Foundation for the Blind to see how
they created the discussion board on their web site so that we can use
that as a model. Largely based on leads provided by Cal Montgomery,
Maureen Horowitz has been compiling a list of organizations and
individuals who have addressed the communications access requirements of
people who have traditionally been excluded from the disability rights
movement, including people with cognitive impairments, people who don't
read, people who don't have access to computers, and people for whom
sign language is the most accessible form of communication. Sarah
Triano and Stephanie Takemoto and Marketoe A. Day have been researching
accessible software and/or web sites.

In late 2001, the Mitsubishi Electric America (MEA) Foundation contacted
members of the Action Team and strongly encouraged us to apply for one
of their grants. The MEA Foundation's mission is to use technology to
empower young people with disabilities. Over the next year, we will
consider applying for an MEA Foundation grant to support our web site
and listserv accessibility endeavors.

We are also in need of a permanent web site team who can monitor the web
site and keep it up to date on a daily basis.

Financial Status:

NDSU Co-Founder, Daniel Davis, was awarded a Hearne Leadership Award in
the amount of $10,000 which he has graciously promised to donate to
NDSU. We have also received a $400 contribution from Kids as Self
Advocates, and some donations from individuals who support our work.

The NDSU Action Team has identified several grants to support our
efforts, but NDSU is in need of a fiscal team that could lead and direct
our efforts in this area, assist with writing grant applications, and
track donations/contributions and spending.

THE BRAID NEWSLETTER:

During the past year, we began the development of NDSU's quarterly
student periodical, The Braid. Here, too, efforts were halted when
Maureen Horowitz, Joe Hall, Sarah Triano, Cal Montgomery, Isaac Huff,
Sharon Lamp, Dan Davis and Barb Bechdol quickly realized that there
weren't materials available on which to model accessible communication
about starting the newsletter, much less the newsletter itself. As a
result, what began as discussion of a newsletter became, in many
respects, a research project on accessible communication. Plans for The
Braid are suspended until the accessibility issues have been resolved.


LISTSERV UPDATE:

The lifeline of the National Disabled Students Union is our listserv;
currently we have 230 members from all over the globe. We use this
Internet messaging system to communicate with fellow members and update
each other about current court cases; activities that disabled students
may want to read, learn, and participate in; and spread other relevant
information about disability issues. It is also a place to connect and
network with fellow students who are interested in disability issues.

Halfway through the year, Sarah Triano found that she was unable to keep
up with the duties of managing the listserv by herself due to chronic
illness. Stephanie Takemoto stepped in and offered to assist in
moderating the listserv.

Issues arose very early concerning the accessibility of the listserv, as
noted in the access and web site update sections above.

As the result of an accommodation request, we now use list topics -
CURR, ORG, GOV, DS, and ANN - to help sort the messages into categories
that make it a little easier to manage. A list topic is added to the
beginning of the subject to help the computer sort the messages.

Example:

Subject: CURR: Supreme Court Ruling . . .

A member will only receive messages that have topics that match the ones
subscribed to.

To unsubscribe to the list:

a. Send a message to: listserv@listserv.uic.edu
b. In the body of the message, type: SIGNOFF NDSU

If you are subscribed to the NDSU listserv, you can change your
subscription to get any or all of these of these topics by going to
<http://ness.uic.edu/htbin/wa?SUBED1=ndsu&A=1>.

If you would like to add yourself to the NDSU listserv please visit
www.disabledstudents.org <http://www.disabledstudents.org> for
instructions.

Please contact Stephanie Takemoto at stakemoto@socal.rr.com
<mailto:stakemoto@socal.rr.com> or Sarah Triano at
ndsu@disabledstudents.org <mailto:ndsu@disabledstudents.org> if you have
any problems or questions.


LEADERSHIP IN CHALLENGING DISCRIMINATION WITHIN THE MAINSTREAM DISABILITY
CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT AND WITHIN THE LEFT:

Paying attention to history once again, SNCC was highly critical of the
mainstream civil rights movement. In the same way, NDSU has taken the
lead in challenging the mainstream disability civil rights movement and
pushing it to live up to the ideals it preaches. In December of last
year, NDSU members Laura Obara and Sarah Triano wrote a critique of the
mainstream disability civil rights movement and the way in which it
leaves out key groups of people with disabilities that was widely
published throughout the nation. The title of the piece was "Welcome
Home to Disabled Country." It can be found in Mouth Magazine #69 and on
the Justice for All list archives.

In addition to being critical of the mainstream civil rights movement,
SNCC insisted that the focus of their group be the development of
grassroots leadership and direct action at the local level. They didn't
restrict membership to students. Some of them dropped out of school for
SNCC and some of the members included such people as Fannie Lou Hamer -
a 43-year-old sharecropper from Mississippi who had a disability.

Though the Southern Christian Leadership Council (SCLC) was very
interested in making SNCC the "youth arm" of SCLC, SNCC wanted nothing
to do with it. SNCC insisted on their own autonomy and independence
from every organization within the system. The NDSU Action Team also
believes that maintaining our independence and autonomy with other
organizations from a position of strength will help our organization
continue to fight against injustice and exclusion within the disability
rights movement and elsewhere.

IDEAS FOR THE FUTURE:

NDSU has tried to remain committed to the policy of, until everyone can
participate, no one will participate. This, in part, has led to a sense
that nothing is happening in the organization. In fact, we are taking
the time to try and address the access issues that have come up, and we
are making that a priority. Until we adequately address these issues, it
seems futile to discuss ideas for the future. Even so, we think it is
useful to mention a few of the ideas on the horizon:

1. A national meeting in the fall, as originally proposed by Bruce Wolfe
(see Sarah Triano's proposal below);

2. Going international. We have received several requests from students
with disabilities in other countries to create an International Disabled
Students Union. We could kick this off by planning for an international
student leadership conference; and

3. An online Disability Studies bookstore to generate revenue and income
for NDSU.

A proposal for an NDSU National Meeting (listening to the winds of
history):

After SNCC held sit-ins across the country in April of 1960, the first
thing they did was get together for a national meeting of student
leaders for two days in Atlanta (which was largely funded by the
Southern Christian Leadership Council). At that meeting, they defined
their mission, goals, and purpose. They also elected state
representatives, while simultaneously maintaining a fairly loose
organizational structure. Most importantly, at this meeting, they got
the chance to connect on a very personal level. In an account of the
meeting by Julian Bond, he stresses how very powerful it was to meet
with some of the people he had only corresponded with via letters, and
read about in papers.

The Action Team will discuss following SNCC's example and holding an
in-person national meeting of disabled students ("students" in the
broadest sense of the word) and our allies before the end of 2002. At
this meeting, we would discuss the mission, goals, and purpose of NDSU.
It would be a strategic planning meeting. We would also have a chance to
just get to know each other a little more and have fun! There would be
no boring speakers lecturing to us, no workshops telling us how to be
leaders. We are already leaders and it is time that we lead and call our
own shots.

We would invite some of the founding members of SNCC to join us and
offer guidance and advice, as necessary. Unlike SNCC, which planned
their meeting in less than a month, we would need to spend several
months planning this meeting to ensure accessibility and the equal
participation of all. As Barb Bechdol suggested nearly a year ago, we
can rely on NDSU members and allies who have successfully
coordinated disability conferences in the past to help achieve 100%
accessibility at our conference. We could look into funding to not only
get people to the meeting, but to also make sure that we get people
involved who are institutionalized or at home. We could talk about the
specific ways that we want to start developing grassroots leadership and
taking our message to the people.

When some NDSU members attended a leadership conference a few years ago,
they had to listen to one boring speaker after another from a notorious
federal Agency who supposedly told them how to be effective leaders.
When they asked why these people had been allowed to speak, they were
told that, since this Agency was funding a majority of the conference,
the agency had to have some say in selecting the speakers. We will have
NONE OF THAT at our meeting.

This will not be a traditional conference/action like most organizations
in the disability community put on - i.e. they charge $200 to attend,
have inaccessible housing, inaccessible food, a lack of diversity (and
even hostility toward diversity), and a variety of boring speakers who
preach at you.

This would be *our* meeting - a time *for us* to meet, plan, lead, and
simply enjoy each other's company while also challenging each other. We
could also hit the streets and pound the pavement, and take our meeting
to those locally who cannot attend because they are locked in an
institution or home.

SNCC leader, John Lewis, once said, "The revolution is at hand, and we
must free ourselves of the chains of political and economic slavery and
all of us must get in the revolution. Get in and stay in the streets of
every city, every village and every hamlet of this nation, until true
Freedom comes, until the revolution is complete." The revolution is,
indeed, at hand and NDSU is takin' it to the streets.

This update could not have been accomplished with out the dedication of
a few members of NDSU's Action Team. Maureen Horowitz, Sarah Triano, Joe
Hall, Daniel Davis, Stephanie Takemoto, Marlin Thomas, and Kathy Coleman
put a lot of time into this document and deserve NDSU's sincere
gratitude.

REMEMBER GARRETT, REMEMBER THE BRAID.

NDSU's awesome power and strength comes from our members. Without our
members, NDSU would not exist. The Action Team would like to thank all
of the dedicated members of NDSU who helped build our great
organization. As Cal Montgomery once wrote, "We use a braid to
demonstrate our commitment to the way a diverse group of strands can
come together to make something strong and sure." This has been proven
though NDSU's accomplishments over the last year.

While we have come a long way, we still have many battles to fight. The
NDSU Action Team is more excited than ever about these new challenges
and views them as avenues to build and develop an even stronger and more
inclusive movement. Please join us in our fight. Together we can break
down the barriers and work toward social justice for all.