Disability Rights Washington’s (DRW) Breaking Barriers Awards recognize that together we can build an inclusive community. Change requires that we all contribute our unique assets, positions, and skills.
Each year since 2017, DRW presents these prestigious awards honoring community partners for breaking barriers to advance the rights of, and improve the lives of people with disabilities in Washington State. Each year, awards have been presented to leaders in Business, Public Policy, and Advocacy. In special cases DRW also presents an Emerging Advocate and Lifetime Achievement Award.
2021 Breaking Barriers Award Winners
Christine Lew (She/her) has spent the past four years working as a disability justice advocate. Christine’s advocacy work has focused primarily on expanding access to post-secondary education for students with disabilities at the University of Washington, from which she recently graduated. She served as the Associated Students of the University of Washington (ASUW) Student Disability Commission’s (SDC) first-ever Assistant Director, and for two years as the Director from 2019-2021. Over the course of her career, she managed around 30 interns, and organized more than 15 different events centered around disability pride, allyship education, and disability studies.
Christine is a mad/disabled identifying Asian American woman. Both of Christine’s parents are Deaf, so she grew up with American Sign Language (ASL) as her first language. As a CODA (Child of Deaf Adults), she was raised within the Deaf community and surrounded by Deaf culture, and therefore, had a front-row seat to the ableism and discrimination that Deaf people face from the hearing world. Watching those experiences drove her to create inclusive, accessible spaces for Deaf/disabled students during her time at the University of Washington.
During her time as the Assistant Director, Christine and her team began to notice that many disabled students had a difficult time attending student-led events. She led and drafted the 50 page proposal for the ASUW Office of Inclusive Design (OID); the first of its kind in the nation. As of the 2021 – 2022 academic year, this entity will provide funding and guidance to student clubs and programs that want to make their programming inclusively designed.
Her advocacy work also influenced her academic research. In her senior year, she completed an independent research project about ‘Disability Gain’, which explores the ways in which different bodies/minds can become advantageous within certain contexts. She interviewed many Deaf/disabled people about their thoughts and experiences, and presented her findings at the UW Undergraduate Research Symposium in May 2021.
Christine graduated from the University of Washington in Spring 2021 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Disability Studies with interdisciplinary honors, and a minor in ASL. Her research and activist work has been recognized through various awards including recognition as a member of the 2021 Husky 100, as a recipient of the Dennis Lang Award in Disability Studies, and the two-time recipient of the Harlan Hahn Endowment Fund for research in Disability Studies.
Christine continues her career in service of the disability community, serving as a member of the Seattle Disability Commission. She is also one of the founders of Crip Riot: a disabled-owned and led company committed to bringing expressions of disability pride to the world, through unapologetic media, clothing, education and activism and of Myers Fork Consulting: providing HR support, ADA coordinator services and equity workshops to businesses and organizations across the Puget Sound. Their expected launch in Summer 2021, is a continuation of Christine’s commitment to positive identity development, equity and access for the disability community.
ProtestAccess provides post-production accessibility for social justice content. In doing this work, ProtestAccess is committed to centering disabled Black/Indigenous/People of Color and removing barriers to participation in social justice conversations. Ultimately, ProtestAccess “strives for a world in which we need not exist because accessible media is the standard.”
The volunteer-run collective was established June 1, 2020, in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests that followed the murder of George Floyd, and formed by a small group of Children and Siblings of Deaf Adults, communication access service providers, & others involved in Deaf communities. ProtestAccess has grown into a community of 300+ remote volunteers from all over the world who have processed nearly 1,000 pieces of content for d/Deaf/Hard of Hearing, Blind/Visually Impaired, and English Language Learners. There is a multilingual component to the work as well, with services offered in African American Vernacular English (AAVE), English, Spanish, French, and more!
In addition to the organizing body, ProtestAccess’ praxis and vision are guided by the Advisory Board. Members of the Advisory Board come from the communities that our mission inherently serves and works alongside (specifically, people with disabilities and BIPOC), to inform the work that ProtestAccess does, and help ensure the organization continues to grow in a critical and inclusive manner.
Above Image Description: White horizontal banner. To the left is a horizontal logo with bold, black text enclosed by a teal quote mark. The text reads, “Protest Access,” in all caps. Below the organization’s name, an oft-centered black banner with small, white text reads “Social Justice For All” also in all caps. Top right: Bold, black text reads, “The revolution will be accessible.” Centered under the text are a mixed group of protestors of various genders and races, some with visible disabilities, carrying signs. To the left, a protester using a wheelchair puts up their fist and waves a teal flag that reads, “Join us!” in bold white text. Link to JustPasteIt ID: https://justpaste.it/3rm45
2020 Award Recipients
2020 Advocacy Award: Josh Galassi
2020 Public Policy Award: Senator Rebecca Saldaña
2020 Business Leader Award: Woodland Park Zoo
2020 Emerging Advocate Award: Rochelle Bowyer
2020 Lifetime Achievement Award: Nathan Loose
2019 Award Recipients
2019 Advocacy Award: Jae Kim
2019 Public Policy Award: Leslie Cushman & the De-Escalate Coalition
2019 Business Leader Award: Chehalis Grocery Outlet