January 16, 2023

MLK Day - The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on access to services and access to work for people with disabilities

1:00 pm to 2:00 pm

Online Via Zoom. Watch the YouTube video here.


For our third annual MLK panel discussion, social justice expert Dr. Reshawna Chapple and her guests discussed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on access to services and access to work for people with disabilities from the perspective of the Black disability community. 

We have all experienced trying times during the COVID-19 pandemic, but marginalized populations have been bearing the brunt of this public health crisis. People with disabilities have experienced significant changes in how they access work, study, and care, impacting nearly every aspect of their lives.

Honoring Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy on anti-racism, equity, and inclusion, our panelists engaged in a wide-ranging discussion about their lives before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighting ongoing struggles and celebrating moments of resilience, intersectionality, and elevation.


Reshawna Chapple

Reshawna Chapple, PhD, LCSW is an associate professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Central Florida. She has worked as a clinical social worker in the areas of mental health, crisis intervention, education, and disabilities. Her teaching focuses on culturally responsive social work practice, psychosocial pathologies, intimate partner violence, clinical practice with families, and forensic social work. Chapple’s research contributes to the scholarship in the areas of Critical Deaf Studies, Critical Race Feminism, and the intersections of Social Work Praxis. Her body of work advances social justice-oriented frameworks by employing Black feminists’ theories and qualitative methodologies to examine the lived experiences of marginalized individuals, intersecting identities, structural inequities, and mental health disparities. Chapple’s work seeks to fill significant gaps in the literature related to mental health treatment disparities and access to culturally responsive services for Black women and D/deaf women who have experienced trauma related to intimate partner violence. She received her BSW, MSW, and Ph.D. in Justice Studies from Arizona State University. Her dissertation was titled: Being a Deaf Woman in College is Hard. Being Black Just Adds: Understanding the Complexities of Intersectionality.

Tameka Citchen-Spruce

Tameka Citchen-Spruce has been advocating and raising awareness for over 15 years for affordable, accessible housing and health equity, as well as fighting against voting oppression and racial and gender injustices toward people with disabilities. A talented filmmaker, Ms. Citchen-Spruce recently joined the 2023 class of Unlock Her Potential, a mentorship program for women of color. W. Kamau Bell, stand-up comedian and the host and executive producer of the Emmy Award-winning CNN docuseries United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell, will serve as her mentor. Ms. Citchen-Spruce serves on the board of Warriors of Wheels of Metropolitan Detroit and is a Program Leader and Racial Justice Specialist for the Leadership Engagement and Advocacy Development program for the Michigan Disability Rights Coalition. Ms. Citchen-Spruce is a recipient of the Cookie Gant Spirit Award.

Theodore Dorsette III

Theodore R. Dorsette III is a Deaf filmmaker, entrepreneur, and social justice advocate from the city of Detroit, MI. He is a Creative Producer at Gallaudet University. Teddy has held leadership roles in a great number of local and national organizations. He is a co-chair of the “Dismantling Racism” Committee for the National Association of the Deaf. He is the current president of the Michigan Coalition for Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and DeafBlind People. He has served as communications and media director for the National Black Deaf Advocates for two terms and has worked as the communications manager and organizer for Detroit Disability Power. Teddy’s government appointments in the state of Michigan include the Licensing and Regulatory Affairs interpreting board and the Michigan Statewide Independent Living Council.

Jaime Junior

Jaime Junior is an activist and an advocate for people with disabilities. She is a current member of Warriors of Wheels of Metropolitan Detroit and has been active in the Michigan Developmental Disability Council and the Constituents’ Voice advisory group of the Detroit Wayne Integrated Health Network. In 2019, she was a spokesperson at the “Walk a Mile in My Shoes” rally on the Capitol lawn in Lansing to educate legislators and put an end to the stigma related to mental illness, developmental disabilities, and health care coverage equality. In recognition of her efforts, she was awarded the Cookie Gant Spirit Award, which honors and recognizes disability advocates. Jamie Junior was also recently crowned Ms. Wheelchair Michigan 2023 and will be competing for the national title of Ms. Wheelchair America.

Kiara Chapple

Kiara Chapple is a school counselor at the California School for the Deaf-Fremont.





The contents of this event were developed under a grant from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR grant number 90RTHF0005).  NIDILRR is a Center within the Administration for Community Living (ACL), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  The contents of this event do not necessarily represent the policy of NIDILRR, ACL, or HHS, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.

flyer for the 2023 MLK panel. All text available on the web page