Click here to open up the video in a separate window.


(music begins, electronic and echoing, upbeat but slow to start)

(strum of guitar, over the top)

(piano kicks in, faster pace)

(cheerful music)

(adds a bass beat)

(brief pause on down‑beat; then swelling into a chorus)

(a little quieter; mostly piano, muted electronic)

(shaken percussion instrument)

(swells up and goes, with brass‑like notes or electronic synth or electronic organ)

(launches into full chorus with clapping)

(softer, mostly the echoing electronics, with a few piano notes)

(song loops)

(guitar strums periodically over top)

(piano starts tune over, guitar strumming more consistently)

(picks up with bass beat)

(softer, just electronics and piano)

(shaken percussion over)

(bursts louder, with electronic keyboard)

(clapping adds over the top, upbeat)

(fades quieter, just echo electronic notes and piano few notes over the top)

(song loops)

(guitar strums once, twice over echoing electronic notes)

(piano comes in and guitar starts strumming regularly, acoustic)

(bass beat kicks in, all energetic while being peaceful)

(hints of shaken percussion)

(drop; all back together, upbeat)

(swelling to fuller sound)

(drop on downbeat; fades into quieter, echoing electronic notes and piano melody over the top)

(shaken percussion joins in, every beat)

(all together, big and with electronic synth or keyboard, periodic clapping)

(builds even greater, clapping every beat)

(fades out into just electronic echoing notes with piano, fewer notes overall)

(song loops, starting again much how it ended)

(guitar strums once; twice)

(piano kicks up, guitar starts strumming constantly)

(bass beat kicks in)

(shaken percussion faint in background)

(drops on beat; kicks into chorus, all light and cheerful and energetic)

(swells with cymbals; continues)

(drops with beat; continues quieter, with just echoing electronic notes and piano over the top in melody)

(shaken percussion joins on every beat)

(kicks up again, now with electronic synth or keyboard)

(periodic clapping every four beats)

(swells louder, with more active piano and with clapping every beat)

(drops into just electronic notes echoing, and a few piano notes over the top)

(song audibly loops, starting much as it ended with echoing electronic notes)

(guitar strums once; twice)

(piano enters, cheerful, as guitar starts strumming constantly)

(piano playing actively now, melody over)

(bass beat enters)

(shaken percussion like tambourine enters faint)

(pause on down‑beat; swells up into chorus, all together and triumphant and cheerful)

(cymbals as swell into more of a bridge)

(fades into just echoing electronic notes with piano light over the top)

(shaken percussion like tambourine joins back in, every beat)

(kicks back up again into chorus, now with electronic synth or electronic organ, giving it a very fun vibe)

(swells even fuller as clapping happens every beat)

(moves into bridge‑like section)

(fades to just echoing electronic notes and piano over the top… fades out entirely)

LYLA:  Hi!  I’m Lyla.  I’m 8 years old, and I am blind.

People and animals of all abilities and disabilities need different types of habitats.

Some swim in the water like otters, or live in the trees like birds.

Habitats need to be the right size.

This is the big barn where giraffes live.  It’s the perfect size for them.

This is Dave, the giraffe.  He weighs about 16 feet tall ‑‑ (Record scratch)

How much does he weigh?!

2500 pounds!  My mom helped me reach high enough to feed him.  He has a really long tongue.  And here he is getting a treat from his zookeeper.

Tiny bugs like green katydids and rainbow beetles only need a little space to live.

Humans need a fitting habitat, too!

I tried to explore a cave in the zoo, but I didn’t fit.

This is a little small for me!

Automatic doors let everyone go in and out, including people in wheelchairs.

And railings help everyone be safe and find their way around, including people who use canes, like me.

AUDIO DESCRIPTION:  Lyla follows the railing on a path.

LYLA:  We really just wanna make it accessible for everybody.

HELEN MARION:  Thank you, Lyla, for taking us along with you as you explored the zoo!

MICKEY ROWE:  And welcome to Disability Rights Washington’s Breaking Barriers event.  I’m Mickey Rowe, he/him.  If you are blind or low vision, I’m wearing a very fancy blue tuxedo.

HELEN MARION:  And if you are blind or low vision, you should know I’m Asian and wearing a gold dress with sparkly velvet followers.  We are sitting on a blue couch with a plant behind us.  And together, we are an inter‑abled couple, raising a diverse family right here in the United States.

MICKEY ROWE:  And I was so lucky to get to play an autistic character in A Curious Incident in the Nighttime.  This also made me one of the first autistic people to play an autistic character openly.  I also cofounded the National Disability Theater and was so lucky to get to play the autistic character, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, in the play, Amadeus.

Now, you may ask, what is an autistic person doing in a language‑based theater?  But I think our differences bring us strengths.

I am so happy to be here tonight!  As a Kent County resident, I know the Washington disability community is fighting daily for my rights.  As an autistic person, I know that 85% of college graduates on the autistic spectrum are unemployed in any given year.  I’m going to repeat that again, if you haven’t turned your sound on or aren’t following along with the captions:  Over 85% of college graduates on the autism spectrum are unemployed.

Disability Rights Washington is fighting daily to make sure that people with disabilities are not discriminated against in the workplace.  Disability Rights Washington knows that people with disabilities are some of the most creative, professional, and hardworking problem‑solvers out there, because of, and not in spite of, our disabilities.

As a disabled person, I know that there is currently no federal minimum wage for so many people with disabilities.  Disability Rights Washington is the one organization that I know has my back and is working to change these things.

As a disabled person, I know that between 33 and 50% of those people killed in police interactions are people with disabilities.  And that a Black person with a disability has a 50% chance of being arrested by the age of 28.

Disability Rights Washington has our back and is working to change laws to make sure that Washington state is more equitable and accessible for people with disabilities, daily.

Now, more than 1.7 million people in Washington state have disabilities!  That includes all disabilities!  Including physical, sensory, intellectual, developmental, and learning disabilities.

HELEN MARION:  Psychiatric disabilities, traumatic brain injury, and chronic illness.

MICKEY ROWE:  26.4% of people in the U.S. have a disability.  Now, that’s 1 out of 4 people, according to Center for disease control.

HELEN MARION:  And 43% of all U.S. COVID deaths are linked to congregant living facilities, and nearly all who have died had disabilities.

MICKEY ROWE:  Now, more than ever!  We need an organization like Disability Rights Washington protecting us, and protecting our laws.

So.  I hope you can get out your wallets tonight and donate.  Whether you donate $1 or $1 million, your donations are equally appreciated and will make a world of difference.

So thank you to our sponsors for your support, and every single dime goes directly to supporting DRW’s advocacy.

Thank you to our partner‑level sponsors, Microsoft Accessibility Team.  On the screen is an image of their logo.

HELEN MARION:  Thank you to the in‑kind donors, who contributed to the drawing, and to our catering partners.

MICKEY ROWE:  Now, tonight would not be possible without all of the hardworking staff.  This includes the Board of Directors, the advocacy council, and the Development Committee.

And thank you for being here at home watching from your couches!

HELEN MARION:  Now, tonight will be a fun‑filled hour with two videos about DRW’s advocacy, and the presentation of our Breaking Barriers Award winners!  Intermingled, we will announce our six opportunity drawing winners, and take a quick break midway.

Now, to highlight accessibility.  We have provided a link in e‑mail to StreamText.  You can click on that link to access realtime captions.  Each viewer can position that captioning wherever they want on their screen.

MICKEY ROWE:  We will also use audio descriptions, such as telling you what we look like, what we’re wearing, what images pop up on the screen, for any viewers who might be blind or low vision.

HELEN MARION:  We will also have interpreting services provided by THAT! Interpreting Services of Deaf and Deaf Blind, a Deaf‑owned business.  The interpreter on the screen is a Deaf interpreter, Terry Dockter.  And the interpreter not on the screen is Colleen Jones, who gives him the information from the hosts and speakers.

MICKEY ROWE:  Now, here is a video just showing you a small part of the large array of services that DRW destroys.

AUDIO DESCRIPTION:  Disability Rights Washington staff and community members at various locations.

VIDEO:  There are over 900,000 people with disabilities in Washington state.

We want to work.

We want the ability to go to dinner with our friends.

We want access to health care!

To affordable and accessible housing.

To be able to get where we need to go!

Disability can have rights Washington is the sole advocacy organization in the state of Washington dedicated to serving people with all kinds of disabilities.

We advocate using the law.

Video and social media!

And organizing.

We’re people with disabilities. 


Attorneys and organizers.

There is a little‑known federal law that allows DRW to go anywhere where people with disabilities are.

That includes hospitals, nursing homes, even jails and prisons.

This means we reach people who can’t come to us.

This power to go wherever people with disabilities are… helps us stop abuse and serious civil and human rights violations.

We provide individualized civil rights information and self‑advocacy tips, so people with disabilities and our families can advocate for our own rights.

We create system‑wide changes to improve access to services.

We help individuals resolve their own issues.

We educate public policymakers on the impact of laws on people with disabilities.

And train people with disabilities to advocate in the legislature.

We tell authentic, accessibility stories ‑‑

‑‑  and redefine narratives around disability, chronic illness, and mental health.

We are litigating ‑‑

‑‑  educating ‑‑

‑‑  and dreaming ‑‑

‑‑ to make a more accessible future.

Join us. 

Join us!

Join us. 

And help create a world where we can all be included.

AUDIO DESCRIPTION:  Disability Rights Washington.

MICKEY ROWE:  Now, everyone who bought a supporter ticket was automatically entered into our opportunity drawings, as a thank you to you.  So, we are now going to announce the winner of the first opportunity drawing.

Now, this is for two coach tickets on Alaska Airlines.  These tickets can take you to anywhere that Alaska Airlines flies.  And they are valid through October 2021.  Right?


MICKEY ROWE:  Awesome.  And the winner is… drum roll, please…! (drumming on knees)

Avery ‑‑ or, Adrian Chavey!  So, congratulations on your two Alaska Airlines tickets.  I can’t wait to hear where you end up going!

So, DRW will follow‑up with the winners after this event via e‑mail.

HELEN MARION:  Our next e‑mail features two people sharing about their experiences with DRW, and they’re joined by our advocacy director, staff attorney, and self‑advocate Ivanova Smith.

DAVID CARLSON:  Hi.  I’m David Carlson.  I’m a white guy wearing a button‑down shirt, here in front of my loom.  I also happen to be Disability Rights Washington’s Advocacy Director.  And I’ve been working out of this room.  So in this room, I do a lot of weaving, whether with threads or different advocacy types.

At Disability Rights Washington, we engage in multimodal advocacy.  That means we take a bit of litigation, a bit of community organizing, a bit of storytelling and lobbying, and mash it all together… (clack, clack)   In a way that creates some new beautiful form of advocacy that hadn’t been seen before.

And during COVID is no exception.  Our community has been impacted in multiple ways.

We saw news reports of Washington’s crisis response, or their “rationing plan.”  What if they run out of services or supplies?  Their plan was discriminating against people with disabilities.  And the federal government agreed with us after we filed the nation’s first complaint.

We also worked with a broad coalition of people around jail health.  “Stay safe, stay home” has been the mantra around this, but being stuck in a jail is one of the worst places to be with COVID.  And we worked with jails to reduce their populations by up to 30% or more.

And our Rooted in Rights team has been working with a diverse group of disabled filmmakers and storytellers to get individual stories out there about the impact of COVID on people here in Washington and across the country.  And they’ve also been working on increasing accessibility for access to the internet and accessible platforms, because right now everything has moved online.  Our communities are still connecting.  We’re connecting today, and!  You’re about to hear about how schools should be connecting better with students with disabilities, even if they have to be remote.

RACHEL NEMHAUSER:  Can I help you tell your story?


RACHEL NEMHAUSER:  Okay.  Thank you.  (audibly kisses)

I’m Rachel Nemhauser.  This is my son, Nate Nemhauser.  Nate is 16 years old, and he’s going to be a sophomore in high school.

Nate is wearing blue shorts and a gray T‑shirt, and he’s chewing on a yellow chewy.  And I’m wearing gray shorts, and a black top, brown sandals, and I have shoulder‑length hair.

What do you think about staying home everyday?

NATE NEMHAUSER:  Boring.  Boring.  Boring.

RACHEL NEMHAUSER:  What would you rather do?


RACHEL NEMHAUSER:  He loves school.  Which is amazing, because… Nate’s ‑‑ kind of prone to not liking a lot of things?  (Laughing)

INTERVIEWER:  What’s your favorite thing about school?


RACHEL NEMHAUSER:  Nate’s favorite thing about school, he’s telling you, is his girlfriend, Keira.

NATE NEMHAUSER:  Keira!  Keira!  Keira!

RACHEL NEMHAUSER:  Okay.  Do you miss her?


RACHEL NEMHAUSER:  We went from having a full day’s worth of education and support, to having literally nothing.

ANDREA KADLEC:  I’m a staff attorney for disability rights Washington.  I have long, messy blond hair?  (Laughs)  And I’m wearing a gray blazer.  And I’m sitting in my living room with my desk.  Messy desk.

Kids have these special education plans that are designed to meet their needs.  And when you take away those finely‑tuned supports, you can really create havoc for families.

So some of the things that people get in schools, that not everybody realizes, include speech therapy, physical therapy, behavioral supports, really solid structure, and individualized instructions so that kids with anxiety have lots of security, lots of support.

And when you take away those structures, it’s just so hard for the kid, and then it’s also really hard for the family.

IVANOVA SMITH:  I’m Ivanova Smith.  I’m a self‑advocate leader.  And I was on an IEP all through K to 12.

I have dark brown hair, olive skin, and I’m wearing a black vest with a burgundy T‑shirt.  And I’m rocking back and forth, ’cause that’s part of my disability.

Students like Nate and I, we need some direction!  We ‑‑ it is hard ‑‑ it was hard for me to initiate doing things on my own.

We just need guidance.  And a paraeducator just helps, helps keep us on track.

AUDIO DESCRIPTION:  Nate and Rachel.

RACHEL NEMHAUSER:  And when Nate was under‑stimulated in the early spring, and less previewed and irritable, I knew I didn’t have a choice.  I had to fight harder to get him the support he needs at school.  Because I really believe his mental health and safety relied on it.


IVANOVA SMITH:  I think it would be really harmful to his future if he didn’t get that support.  Because, you know, he may need that support for, you know, on a job!  And you know, if he works on that stuff now while in school… maybe, you know, in the future, he won’t need it as much anymore, because he can now understand ‑‑ he gained more self‑awareness by having that support.

RACHEL NEMHAUSER:  What do you want to do after high school?

A wedding.

You want your own house?


RACHEL NEMHAUSER:  You want to live in our old house, with Keira?


AUDIO DESCRIPTION:  Nate points to his house.

RACHEL NEMHAUSER:  You’re going to live here?  Like next door?



Oh, so you could just come over whenever you want?  I love that idea!

That is, I guess, the massive equity issue!  That, what he’s learning right now will decide if he can live independently or not.  And… will decide what he has access to, and what achievements he has access to.

And I’m using him as an example, but this isn’t a Nate issue.  This is everyone.  This is all kids with disabilities.


ANDREA KADLEC:  So, many families reached out to us.  Because it was really hard to function as a family without the support that schools provided.  And Rachel is a good example.

One of the things we worked with Rachel to do was to file a citizen’s complaint with the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, and that’s also known as OSPI.

RACHEL NEMHAUSER:  Talking to Andrea… was so affirming, because it told me I’m right to be asking for what I’m asking for, and I’m righted to feel unsatisfied with the response I’m getting.  She taught me what the process was for a citizen’s complaint.  She looked through my draft and gave me suggestions.  She also was part of a group of lawyers around the state that organized parents to all submit our citizen’s complaints on the same day, to make it ‑‑ send a bigger message.

ANDREA KADLEC:  We’ve probably worked with two dozen families or so, and we feel like we’re just getting the tip of the iceberg, really.  There’s a lot of work left to be done.  So I’m looking forward to doing that.

RACHEL NEMHAUSER:  So we got a decision that was in our favor.  The state acknowledged Nate did not get his free and appropriate public education.

Disability Rights Washington was a lifesaver for us.  Knowing you have the right, without the ability to pay?  Is just so critical.  So I guess, my message to everyone is… this is an organization that helps.  And they can’t do it without help from you, without financial support.  But that financial support goes to an organization that makes a huge difference, in the lives of families, but most importantly in the lives of people with disabilities.

This isn’t really about me, it’s not my story?  It’s about Nate.  And… knowing that there’s an organization committed to defending his rights… means everything.  So.  My message is donate.  Give.  Help.  Because this makes a difference.  And it’s… it’s…


RACHEL NEMHAUSER:  Wait, tell them.


RACHEL NEMHAUSER:  Help us.  Yeah.

HELEN MARION:  And a great update:  Nate has now returned to attend school in person two days a week, and is riding the bus.  While we understand that there is still more work ahead for Nate and others to obtain an appropriate education, this is a great step forward for Nate, and we hear he and his family are doing much better.

So.  You heard from Rachel and Nate about how DRW worked with them to protect the rights of kids with disabilities to receive an appropriate education during COVID.  But the work is not done, and we need your help.

MICKEY ROWE:  So now, it is time to donate!  Now, I know!  You came with a number in your head for what you were expecting to donate.  But I’m gonna ask you… if you think you can increase that number.  Or even double it!

Every single donation makes such a difference.  So, it’s really important to us that you give a donation that is meaningful to you, whatever that means to you.

HELEN MARION:  So.  How do you donate?  On your screen, there’s a link.  Or!  Text to 474747.  This is super easy!  You send a text to this number, 474747, and in the body of the text, write the letters “DRW.”  Make sure your phone does not autocorrect that to something else!  In the text, write “DRW.”  You will then receive a response with a link to make your donation!

MICKEY ROWE:  Again, go to, or text “DRW” to 474747, making sure that it doesn’t autocorrect.

So!  Can you, yes, you!  Can you give… $2,500?  If you can!  If that is something that is doable for you, here are some examples of what your money can accomplish.  Here are some examples of what your generosity helped us to do last year with $2,500.

So, last year, $2,500 made it so that 50 people with disabilities traveled to Olympia, to the capital, to share their stories with policymakers in the cross‑disability advocacy day.  And this included providing transportation and speaker stipends for these people.

HELEN MARION:  Last year, $2,500 made it so DRW staff helped to safeguard the help of people with disabilities.  We monitored three institutions in Washington state by virtually meeting with people with developmental disabilities living in those institutions to see if they were being harmed, or if their rights were being violated.  But that virtual monitoring, DRW found the facility was not in compliance with infection control procedures, placing people at risk of COVID‑19!  In response, DRW alerted the appropriate authorities about the noncompliance, and appropriate steps were taken to protect residents and staff.

MICKEY ROWE:  So go donate right now.  I hope you have another tab open while you’re listening to me, and you’re making your donation now.

Okay.  Another thing last year that we were able to accomplish with $2,500.  Last year, with $2,500… DRW took legal action by submitting an amicus brief in the 9th circuit court to protect speech between patients and medical providers.  And this is so important!  This is an important effort to ensure that people are able to seek health care, and specifically mental health services, without any fear of retaliation.

Last year, $2,500 made it so that we created a new opportunity by contracting with a guest editor in our rooted ‑‑ I’m sorry!  Rooted in Rights blog.  And this provided different perspectives from within the disability community while paying fair‑rate wages to writers with disabilities.

HELEN MARION:  Every donation you can make makes a difference.  Together, we can break barriers to equity, self‑determination, and civil rights for people with disabilities.  Every gift counts.  So give at a level that is meaningful to you.

MICKEY ROWE:  So in another tab, you have open, or you have your phone out and you’ve texted “DRW” to 474747, making sure that it doesn’t autocorrect.

HELEN MARION:  Can you give $1,000?  We have some more examples about what we were able to do last year with 1,000.  40 people with disabilities in rural areas learned storytelling skills and how to advocate and navigate the legislature through two fully accessible trainings, including CART, ASL, stipends to speakers and for child care, transportation, and training materials.

1,000 made it so our staff protected the safety of people with disabilities in prisons by monitoring and reporting 4 health and safety violations at 2 prison units: a specialized prison unit for 100 people with traumatic brain injuries and other cognitive conditions, and the most restrictive prison mental health unit in Washington holding 27 people with disabilities.

With 1,000, we directed and edited a video with which our transportation intern, Blake Guyen, highlighted the need for accessible sidewalks to access the public building with accessible voting equipment to allow people with disabilities to vote freely and privately.  Now, that was featured in the news.  After that, the city agreed to pave new sections of sidewalk, connecting nearby bus routes to the election center.

MICKEY ROWE:  Can you give $150?  Is that something that you can do?  For $150, disability ‑‑ disabled writers have a paid opportunity to share an authentic story on the Rooted in Rights blog.

Can you give $100?  Is that possible?  For $150, people with disabilities advocate for their own rights with technical assistance from DRW.  Again, you can donate by going to… the link,, or texting “DRW” to 474747.  And just make sure that “DRW” doesn’t autocorrect.

And we will update you later on in the program on how much we’ve raised so far.  So do it now, so that you can be included in that update.

HELEN MARION:  And, you can also make a pledge online, if you plan on sending in a check or using a donor‑advised fund grant.  Just go to, or text “DRW” to 474747, so we can count your donation today!

MICKEY ROWE:  Okay.  We are about to take a five‑minute break.  But before we do, we just wanted to thank some of our sponsors.


At the partner‑level, we have Microsoft Accessibility Team.  At the advocate‑level, Group Health Foundation.  Our friends, Andrew Biviano, attorney at Paukert & Troppmann, PLLC.  Jennifer and Peter McAuliffe.  Peter Korn and… Anneli Meyer Korn.  Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho.

At the host‑level, MacDonald Hoague and Bayless.  Accessibility Oz.  Frank Freed Subit & Thomas.  OneDigital Health and Benefits.  Anderson Ellis.  Wilson Sonsini Goodrich and Rosati Foundation.  Pam Crone.  Washington Alarm.  Sarah Bird.

And our in‑kind donors:  Alaska Airlines.  Seattle Mariners.  Columbia Winery.  Rooftop Brewing.  Lagunitas Brewing.  And Bale Breaker Brewing.

And our restaurant and catering partners:  Gourmando and Kay Catering.

HELEN MARION:  Now, we hope you are enjoying your dinners from Kay Catering and Gourmando in Seattle.  Now, we are going to take a short break and be back in five minutes for the remainder of our Breaking Barriers Award and the remainder of the opportunity drawings.  See you soon!

MICKEY ROWE:  See you soon!

(music, very upbeat and cheerful and whimsical, dropping notes all over, like a xylophone)

(fun, like raindrops and cheery back and forth)

(little trills alone, and then swells back with strings underneath, more spring‑like)

(music stops; resumes with the little droplet notes, a few dropping plucking bits, all very fast and cheerful and active, while also remaining light and airy)

(background chiming longer notes dropping in, a bit slower)

(swelling back in of strings, again making it like a spring day)

(droplets trill, and out!)

(song loops audibly, starting with the droplet notes again, piano and xylophone‑like)

(droplets alone, and then plunk into deeper notes, accenting from below)

(high string joins, like single hits)

(droplets alone, trill once ‑‑)

(in comes sawed‑like strings, long and drawn out)

(all very cheerful and positive, playful)

(steadied by the strings underneath)

(sudden stop ‑‑ then just droplet notes, coming back in and plucking up)

(building up ‑‑ a chiming, echoing instrument joins in background, slow)

(swells in with strings again, slow and drawn like calm spring underneath the droplets ‑‑ and the droplets trill, and out!)

(song audibly loops, starting again with the droplets playing around, piano and xylophone)

(droplets alone, then plunk into louder other droplet notes accenting while the originals continue)

(singular string notes join in, varying between low and high)

(droplets trill, once, twice ‑‑)

(strings swell in, calming underneath, a steadying presence ‑‑ all fades out)

HELEN MARION:  Welcome back…!

MICKEY ROWE:  Welcome back!  Okay!  We are now going to announce two opportunity drawings!

So, the first opportunity drawing we’re gonna announce now is for four Mariners tickets!  To the Seattle Mariners.  So, imagine being at the Mariners, at the Terrace Club or Main level.  So these four tickets are for the 2021 season.

And the winner is… (drumming on knees)   Carey Basses!  So congratulations, Carey Basses on your four Mariners tickets!

HELEN MARION:  (Laughs)  The next prize is a Columbia Winery prize.


HELEN MARION:  You and a guest can be a private wine club member for a day, and enjoy exclusive access and a discount.

The winner is ‑‑ Ryan Neighbors!  Congratulations, Ryan!

MICKEY ROWE:  Now, this is the part of the night I’m sure we are all so excited for:  The presentation of the 2020 Breaking Barriers Awards.

HELEN MARION:  To introduce them?  Mark Stroh, Executive Director.

MARK STROH:  Good evening.  My name is Mark Stroh.  I’m a white man wearing a headset and a shirt with little purple and black squares, and the little hair I have is gray.  I’m in front of a lovely DRW white and blue backdrop, designed by Jodi Rose.

I’m also the Executive Director of Disability Rights Washington, and I’m here to deliver so well‑deserved thank yous.  Thank you to DRW and its constituents, as well as our award winners.  A thank you to our staff, committee, and volunteers who did the work to put this together.  A thank you to all of our sponsors and in‑kind donors.  We appreciate you making this event possible.  Finally, a thank you to Mickey Rowe and Helen Marion for hosting tonight with so much passion and energy.  We are honored that the two of you chose to be with us tonight and appreciate your generous gifts of time and talent.

And now, for the Breaking Barriers Awards.  DRW and its partners in the disability community cannot do this work alone.  So tonight, we honor others in our community who also have worked to break down the barriers that hold disabled people back.

This year, we have selected five impactful and impressive honorees, each of whose work not only serves as a model for others, but also echoes DRW’s core values and priorities.

The first award this evening is the Emerging Advocate Award.  This recognizes an advocate who has begun advocating in the last few years.  Who demonstrates a strong commitment to disability rights or disability justice in Washington.  Who motivates others to do advocacy.  And who builds a more inclusive community.

This year’s award goes to Rochelle Boyer.  Rochelle is a junior at the University of Washington.  She advocates for the rights and inclusion of disabled students.  Rochelle is a role model, presenting on panels, facilitating discussions, demonstrating advocacy methods, and providing insight on how to promote a positive disability culture.

As part of the University of Washington’s DO‑IT community, Rochelle empowers students with disabilities pursuing secondary education.

As a student with dyslexic, she has fought for her rights to education.  Disappointed with the lack of resources or tips to help students with dyslexia learn a second language, Rochelle plans to study abroad for a full year, documenting her experiences and compiling tips on how to learn a second language.

As a journalist for The Daily at University of Washington, she writes about her perspective as a student with a disability and openly talks about how UW can improve access for students with disabilities.

Congratulations to you, Rochelle, on this accomplishment, and we look forward to seeing the results of your future work.

ROCHELLE BOWYER:  Thank you.  (soft laugh)

AUDIO DESCRIPTION:  Rochelle smiles while holding up her blue Breaking Barriers Award plaque.

ROCHELLE BOWYER:  Hi.  I’m a white woman with brown hair, blue eyes, and gray glasses.

I have been thinking over what to say to thank everyone who has impacted me and brought me to this point.  I am unable to find the words that match the depth of my gratitude.

As a dyslexic, I spent the majority of my life thinking about what life would be like without dyslexia.  This award a reminder that, with dyslexia or not, I have a voice and I should be using it, both in the present and in the future.  Because of my disability, my future is not already mapped out.  This will become a physical reminder on my wall that I have a community behind me that both supports and believes in me.

So once again, thank you for this honor.


MARK STROH:  Tonight’s second award is the Advocacy Award.  DRW presents it to an advocate with a disability who has made a significant contribution in the past year to advance the rights of people with disabilities in Washington state.

This year, we are presenting it to Josh Galassi.  Josh is a writer and advocate living in Seattle.  He is also a gay man with cerebral palsy.  His work often examines the intersection between disability and sexuality.  Since 2016, Josh has been writing for, one of the largest LGBTQ news websites in the world.  In addition to writing about his own personal experiences as a disabled gay man, Josh has profiled several prominent disability activists, including Andrew Gurza and Ryan O’Connell.

In October 2019, Josh was given his own biweekly disability column for  It’s called DisGaybled.  There, Josh has tackled everything from abasiophilia, or the fetishization of people with disabilities, to dating, to confronting his own internalized ableism.

Josh approaches his advocacy work with a blend of humor and heart.  It is through this that he hopes he is able to up‑end preconceived notions of disability.

Congratulations, Josh, on an honor well‑deserved.

JOSH GALASSI:  Aw!  Thank you so much, and thank you to Disability Rights Washington, and congratulations to all my fellow recipients.

My name is Josh Galassi, I’m a white male wearing a pink button‑up, and I’m holding a clear blue fancy award.

I’m so excited to be here tonight and celebrating with, you know, so many incredible, incredible people.  I know for me personally, it feels a little bit wild to be here and to be accepting this award.  I know growing up in rural Montana, I never honestly thought I would amount to anything.

I think too, like, just where I came from, I didn’t come from a rich family, or had a bunch of, you know, connections, or lived in a big city.  And so, it really took me a long time to kind of find my voice?  And kind of be able to use it for good and for other people.

And so I guess tonight, I would just really love to dedicate this award to, you know, anybody else who is struggling out there, or who is having a hard time speaking up for themselves.  I think, you know, as disabled people, we’re used to having ‑‑ we’re used to having barriers, whether that’s to get around or find places to live, and I think the beautiful thing about barriers is that they can all be broken.

I think it just… yeah.  It just really depends on… you know, finding your inner strength to use your voice.

Everybody has, um… has a voice within them, and it deserves to be heard and to be spoken.  And so, really, I’d just love to dedicate this to all my fellow disabled brothers and sisters out there, and just… hope that all of us together can continue to break barriers… as we go through life!

MICKEY ROWE:  Congratulations to Rochelle and Josh!

The Public Advocacy Award is going to be announced next, but first, we really wanted to provide you an update with all the donations that you’ve been sending in so far!

So, because of your generosity at home, so far, we have raised… (drumming on knees).

$44,000!  So remember to keep those donations coming in.  Help us; we need to get to our goal of $60,000, hopefully!  So we are tallying all of these numbers up right now.  And we need your help to reach our goal.

So, right now, you can still donate.  Go to, or text DRW to 474747.  Making sure DRW doesn’t autocorrect.

If you don’t want to donate at this moment, but you want to make a pledge, you can still do that now!  Go to, and we can make that happen!

HELEN MARION:  Okay.  So next up, Anna Zivarts, the Program Director of the Disability Mobility Initiative at DRW, is presenting an award.

ANNA ZIVARTS:  Hi, this is Anna Zivarts.  I am the Program Director of the new Disability Mobility Initiative.  And I’m here with my Senator in the 37th Legislative District.  And I’m here to present our Public Policy Award for her leadership in the public sector.

REBECCA SALDANA:  Thank you so much.  It’s an honor to be here.  I’m a legislator in the 37th Legislative District.  I identify as she/her/they and a Chicana, Mexican American, mother, daughter, and resident of Rainier Beach neighborhood.

Before my career, I started with janitors and farmers, and recently worked at a nonprofit called Puget Sound Sage that works at the intersection of equitable economic development, good jobs, and climate justice.

So, now I serve as a state Senator, as the Majority Leader, Deputy Leader of the Senate, co‑chair of the Members of Color Caucus.  And vice chair of the Transportation Committee.

ANNA ZIVARTS:  We’re presenting this award because of the work we did last session, making sure those who are transit‑dependent have access to our communities.  And we’re going to continue to work with Senator Saldana next year, and really appreciate the work she’s done to bridge communities that wouldn’t necessarily be talking to each other or on the same page, to help us realize we really do have shared needs and goals, and we can work together for an equitable future.  Thank you.

REBECCA SALDANA:  Thank you so much.  To me, this is a symbol of the importance of our continued work together.  As someone who is very aware, during COVID, of the blessing of having health?  And that I don’t take that for granted.  And, but also, someone that is still learning, in terms of how to be an accomplice with the disability advocacy community, and making sure that as we make policy, that you’re centered in our decisions.  That you’re at the table.  Because we know:  When we center those that often are not included, we get better policy that works for everyone.

And so, I really appreciate this recognition, and look forward to the ‑‑ much of the hard, the hard work ahead of us.

HELEN MARION:  Congratulations, Senator Saldana!

MICKEY ROWE:  Now, here is my friend Clark Matthews, Creative Director of Rooted in Rights.  I’ve long been a fan of Rooted in Rights video content.  If you don’t know Rooted in Rights, after this ends, make sure to check out their incredible video content online after the awards.

So, Clark is presenting the Business Leader award.

CLARK MATTHEWS:  Hi!  My name is Clark Matthews.  I’m the Creative Co‑Director of Rooted in Rights.  I have dark hair, light skin, wearing a dark purple shirt, and I’m Zooming to you from my living room in front of my Zoom‑friendly bookshelf.

This award goes to people who have made a large contribution to the lives and rights of people with disabilities in Washington state.  This year, it goes to the Woodland Park Zoo, which has overhauled their website with accessible resources, hosts Sensory‑Friendly Fridays at their amazing Zoomazium, and has committed to having people with disabilities at every level of the organization, from staff, volunteers, guests, to even budding YouTube stars.

ALEJANDRO GRAJAL:  Thank you, Disability Rights Washington.  On behalf of everyone here at Woodland Park Zoo, we’re honored to receive this Breaking Barriers Award 2020.  Thank you so much.

The COVID‑19 pandemic has deeply disrupted our lives, and hard‑fought victories for inclusion are being challenged everyday with new health regulations and society concerns.

We must remain totally committed to include the needs of everyone… all the time.

This Breaking Barrier Award demonstrates the focus and innovation of our community to ensure inclusion and access for all.

The mission of the Zoo is to save wildlife and inspire everyone to make conservation a priority in their lives.  And here, the emphasis is on “everyone.”  Because the inclusion of diverse voices, perspectives, and abilities enriches the mission of the Zoo and ensures conservation of nature.

Creating an environment where all voices are celebrated and included takes work and takes determination.  It also requires the guidance and support of many partners that continue to help the Zoo in its journey for accessibility and inclusion.

COVID‑19 pandemic has thrown a lot of road blocks in our way, and we must remain committed to overcome those road blocks and continue this journey for inclusion.

Thanks to Disability Rights Washington for all your help and guidance, and make sure that we as a community remain committed to this long‑touting journey for access and inclusion.

The Zoo is open to everybody.  And please come and enjoy this green oasis that Woodland Park Zoo is for our community in every respect.  Thank you so much.

HELEN MARION:  Congratulations to the Woodland Park Zoo!  I know we love the zoo, with our blended, neurodiverse family of four kids, the zoo is an incredible resource to us.  And on that note, hello to our kids watching at home.  We love you.  (giggles)

Okay!  Next up, we have Mark Stroh, Executive Director of DRW, to present the Lifetime Achievement Award.

MARK STROH:  The final Award this evening is the Lifetime Achievement Award.  A Lifetime Achievement Award goes to a disabled person who has demonstrated a long‑term commitment to breaking the barriers that impede people with disabilities.

This year’s award goes to Nathan Loose.

AUDIO DESCRIPTION:  A closeup photo of Nathan, a white man with brown facial hair.

MARK STROH:  It was presented posthumously with his family present.

AUDIO DESCRIPTION:  Mark presents at an outdoor park, with trees and water in the background, on a beautiful, sunny day.

MARK STROH:  For his years of leadership and success, Disability Rights Washington ‑‑ we call it DRW ‑‑ is presenting the 2020 DRW Breaking Barriers Lifetime Achievement Advocacy Award to the family of Nathan Loose, who earned it for his years of leadership and success.  It’s not an award that we give out every year; but rather, it is an award we reserve for the most exceptional of the exceptional.  And those individuals are few and far between.

AUDIO DESCRIPTION:  A full‑body photo of Nathan in his powerchair, wearing a Seahawks sweatshirt.


MARK STROH:  DRW staff knew Nathan chair of our advisory committee and on the Board of Directors.  He was a leader for advocacy in self‑directed in‑home care.  He believed that people who use in‑home services should be in charge of directing their own care, including hiring, firing, training, and supervising caregivers.

Through many years of effective advocacy, nay then ensured that policymakers consider and respond to the perspective of people with disabilities in designing and delivering in‑home services.  Nathan worked tirelessly in support of the right to live in one’s own home in the community.  Over the years, Nathan developed subject matter expertise in issues related to home care services, and he became a recognized leader and spokesperson.  As a leader, Nathan encouraged and supported other people with disabilities in speaking up for their own rights.  He did this on the public stage by supporting others and learning how to do legislative and regulatory advocacy.  He also helped individuals ‑‑ people with disabilities succeed in establishing homes in the community.  Nathan did this through his business.  Nathan received referrals from the state to assist people moving out of nursing homes or homelessness in finding homes in the community and securing services they needed to succeed.

Both in his business and through his public advocacy, Nathan worked to support the rights of every person with a disability to live and participate in the community, and we are honored today to recognize these achievements with this award.

Nathan will truly, truly be missed.  And on behalf of Disability Rights Washington ‑‑ and there are a number of us here today ‑‑ I want to present this to Joanne and the rest of the family.  It’s the Breaking Barriers Award, presented to Nathan Loose in 2020.  “Breaking barriers to advance the rights and improve the lives of people with disabilities.”

AUDIO DESCRIPTION:  Mark hands the Breaking Barriers plaque to Nathan’s family member.  (Clapping)

MARK STROH:  That concludes tonight’s award ceremony.  A big thank you to the awards committee for their hard work in reviewing all of the very many impressive entries.

MICKEY ROWE:  And we want to thank, honor, and remember Nathan for the service, advocacy, and change that he left behind.

And we want to thank his family who received the Lifetime Achievement Award on his behalf.

HELEN MARION:  Now, for the final three opportunity drawings.  First up:  The Bale Breaker Brewing prize!  Now, they are a family‑owned brewery in Yakima.  The winner will receive a T‑shirt, trucker hat, Koozie, and a $25 gift card to use at the taproom or online.  The winner is?  Joshua Stella!


HELEN MARION:  Joshua Stella, congratulations.

MICKEY ROWE:  Next is the Lagunitas Brewing Package.  So, Lagunitas began in California, but it’s now available in over 20 countries.  The winner will receive a swag bag and two cases of Lagunitas beer.

And the winner is… Jared Cohen!  Congratulations, Gerald.

HELEN MARION:  And next up, the Rooftop Brewing prize.  Now, Rooftop Brewing is a Seattle brewery, offering social distancing on the deck or growlers to go.  The winner will receive a gift card good for the price of one growler.

And the winner is… Gayle Stone!  Congratulations, Gayle.

Now, if you won tonight, our staff will be e‑mailing you.  Or!  You can reach out to our office on Monday, at 206‑324‑1521.  Again, that phone number is 206‑324‑1521. and let them know you want to arrange for their prize!

MICKEY ROWE:  But wait, it’s not too late to donate!  So, if you’ve been resting on your couch, like we’ve been resting here on our couch?


MICKEY ROWE:  You can right now open up a new tab and go to, or get out your phone and text “DRW” to 474747.  Make sure it says “DRW,” 474747.

And now, we will announce the total raised so far… by the Breaking Barriers event!  So, we want donations to come in after this, but so far we’ve raised…


MICKEY ROWE:  $58,000!  That is so amazing!  But keep those donations coming.  We just need 2,000 more dollars to help us get to our goal today for $60,000.  Keep it coming, 2,000 more.  And then… we want you to keep giving, because 60,000 is just the minimum of what we needed.  That’s the minimum of the goal.  But we want to exceed the goal!  Because every donation is just going to make it so DRW can make even more difference in Washington state.

Also, if you have an individual Giving Page on FaceBook or somewhere like that, keep it open after this event.  Don’t close it down just because the event has finished.  And also, continue remembering to invite your friends to donate to your individual page.

HELEN MARION:  Well, thank you everyone for coming.  Thank you, KPC Studios for livestreaming this event!  And thank you again, Senator Saldana, for joining us tonight.

MICKEY ROWE:  We are a diverse, vibrant, and powerful community, together!  So, thank you all for your support.  From all over Washington state, you’ve been tuning in on YouTube.  From all over the U.S., you’ve been tuning in.  Thank you for attending this wonderful celebration of our community!

And thank you for donating to Disability Rights Washington to keep our community strong.

HELEN MARION:  Good night!

MICKEY ROWE:  Good night!

(music playing, the music from when it opened)

NARRATOR:  Thank you for attending Disability Rights Washington’s 5th annual Breaking Barriers event.  Thank you to our community for your presence tonight, your donations, and for sharing DRW with your friends and family through individual fundraising pages.  Congratulations to our Breaking Barriers Award winners.

Special thanks to our sponsors, in‑kind donors, guest speakers Nate and Rachel Nemhauser, and our engaging hosts, Helen Marion and Mickey Rowe.  Together, we can create a more inclusive community.

You can still make donations through individual fundraising pages, and at

(music kicks up, calm but energetic, piano over strings; hand percussion joining)

(drop ‑‑ music plays, joyful and calm and pleasant)

(high energy now, clapping on every beat, music swelling high and full)

(fades to just a few piano notes over echoing electronic notes, ambient, calm and pleasant)

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