RAISE Center

Disability and Intersectionality: Not the “Default Disabled Person”

See, the default disabled person is convenient. They share the characteristics of the dominant groups of society in every way except that they have a simple, nonobtrusive disability. They are white, cisgender, straight (if they are sexual at all, but they are also not loudly asexual), and an adult. They do not have physical or medical needs that require anything more than a cane or manual wheelchair. They are not emotionally, cognitively, or psychiatrically disabled. They communicate using verbal speech and navigate the world using vision. They are not traumatized. They work at a job with no accommodations, and they earn enough to make a decent living.
RAISE Center

Love Because, Never Despite, Disability

Our story is not a fairy tale, but it’s also not the tragic picture painted by Hollywood of relationships involving disabled people. Instead, our story is a lesson in empathy practiced by real people who certainly don’t understand each other all the time, but will always continue to try.
Pittsburgh Current

Puzzling Motives: Rethinking Autism ‘Awareness’

I spoke with Bethany Ziss, a developmental-behavioral pediatrician, disabled person, and a board member for PCAA. “A major tenet of the disability rights movement,” she explained to me “is nothing about us, without us.’ People with disabilities should be the ones most centrally involved in advocacy efforts related to disability… At the most basic level, what’s often missing is the perspective of autistic people.”
Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Getting ready for work: Programs aid transition for young adults with autism

The key takeaway from this article is not that we need some specific therapy in order to be employable, but that our value is independent of our ability to work. It is NOT that Autistic people must change in order to work, but rather that society should be more accepting of what an Autistic at work looks like.
Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Making life better? Denying rights won’t help Pennsylvanians with disabilities

“If members of the General Assembly want to make life better in Pennsylvania for people with Down syndrome, they can start by ensuring that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities get the services they need to be fully included in our communities.”

Philly Disability Day of Mourning a step toward honoring those killed by caregivers

“Jessica Benham, director of public policy at the center, said that it’s ‘a day to bring awareness to the alarming number of these tragedies in recent years, and to demand justice for all people with disabilities. We’re holding this vigil to say no. It is never justifiable to kill.’”
The Pitt News

Students Cope with Invisible Illnesses

“When I’m using a cane, people are quick to offer me a seat at the front of the bus, or they apologize if there isn’t a ramp to where I need to go,” Benham said. “When it comes to anxiety and autism, people tend to be less understanding. They don’t realize that offering the support I need because of those experiences is similar to providing a ramp.”
Next Pittsburgh

4 Pittsburgh leaders on inclusion, and not leaving anyone behind

“We want ‘the good life,’ just like everybody else,” she says. “I believe this next generation is much more accepting of that than previous generations have been. This generation has grown up with the Americans with Disabilities Act existing all of their lives. They’ve been in schools with people with disabilities, they have co-workers with disabilities, and that makes a huge difference.”

Press Kit

For press inquiries, please contact Jess Benham (

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