The 2022 Visions of Community Conference happened in late March of this year, and its positive effect on our community of allies continues.

Parents learned tips and tricks for supporting their children through advocacy (and themselves through workshops in self-care!). Young adults with disabilities explored the vast potential of their future. Educators and others who support people with disabilities learned how to meaningfully engage with families. Everyone came together, forming a community of collaborators with the shared mission of empowering and supporting people with disabilities.

This being my first VOC conference with the Federation, I wanted to share one of my favorite moments and lessons from that day. Haben Girma was the first keynote speaker and talked about reframing how we use words like “inspirational” in the context of people with disabilities. She gave words to what some of our blind spots are in terms of disability. She spoke about the difference between calling a person with disabilities inspirational and saying that they inspired you to take action through their story or their words. 

Because of self-advocates such as Haben, I am inspired to increase the accessibility of the information I put out through my work at FCSN. I am also inspired to challenge any preconceived notions about people with disabilities I may have— as this is always a continuous process in all of our work as allies of the disability community. 

Now that I shared what I felt inspired to do, I want you to think about:

What do self-advocates like Haben inspire you to do?


Meet Mikayla Metcalf, the Development and Family Engagement Associate at the Federation For Children With Special Needs! A driven education professional, she brings experience in formal and informal educational settings to her role at FCSN. Her academic background is in Special Education and Psychology with a focus on disability studies and educational technology. In her free time, Mikayla can be found painting, rock climbing, or working on the daily crossword puzzle or Wordle—with the starting word “adieu,” of course. A fun fact about Mikayla is that she has worked in adventure education as an archery and rock climbing instructor! Mikayla is passionate about advocating for disability rights, lifting up the voices of self-advocates, and strengthening the collaborative relationship between schools, families, and the communities that surround them.