A Conversation with Barry Taylor

We’re thrilled to introduce you to the newest member of DRA’s Board of Directors: Barry Taylor. Barry is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Chicago Law School, where he has taught Disability Rights Law to second and third-year law students since 2021.

Portrait of Barry Taylor

How did you first learn about DRA?

When I began working at Equip for Equality, one of the biggest issues facing people with disabilities was the inaccessibility of the Chicago Transit Authority. As we worked on building our case and ultimately negotiating a far-reaching settlement, we relied upon the excellent work by DRA in Cupolo v. Bay Area Rapid Transit. That case introduced me to DRA, and I’ve been a fan ever since!

Why did you decide to join DRA’s board of directors?

For 27 years, I was privileged to work to advance the civil rights of people with disabilities in Illinois. When I retired from Equip for Equality last year, I knew I wanted to stay involved in the disability movement. Joining the Board of DRA provides me with a wonderful opportunity to support disability legal advocacy on a national scale. I’m also excited that DRA has opened a Chicago office and I’m honored to be DRA’s first board member from the Midwest. I look forward to helping DRA build a just and welcoming society for all.

Why do you think DRA’s work is urgent and important?

Despite the advances people with disabilities have made, discrimination is still pervasive in our country. With its focus on impact litigation, DRA uses its resources in a very strategic way to identify and then reform discriminatory systems and policies that prevent people with disabilities from being fully integrated into our society. I can’t think of anything more urgent and important.

What aspect of DRA’s work are you most proud of?

I’m most proud of DRA’s leadership role in the disability advocacy community. DRA has consistently developed creative and effective ways to remove critical barriers facing people with disabilities. For instance, DRA’s innovative approach to address the unmet needs of people with disabilities in emergencies was groundbreaking. Starting with its landmark case in Oakland and then bringing similar cases across the country, millions of people with disabilities can thank DRA that their rights will no longer be ignored when emergencies arise.

Anything else you want to share?

I wore braces on my legs as a child and experienced significant bullying. It’s incredible I now get to be part of an organization that works to eradicate discrimination and promote a world where people with disabilities are treated with equity and respect. It’s something my younger self never could have imagined!