The U.S. Census estimated in 2000 that as many as 20% — or 1 in 5 — of Asian American & Pacific Islanders (AAPI) are living with some form of chronic disability, a number that may only have increased in the subsequent 14 years since this report was published. While the rates of AAPIs with disabilities mirror rates in the national population, rarely are AAPIs with disabilities visible either in AAPI advocacy or in disability rights advocacy.
Asian & Pacific Islanders with Disabilities of California (APIDC) has roots as a grassroots California advocacy group that received federal non-profit status in 2008, and it remains the country’s only disability rights and education non-profit focused on the Asian American disabled community. According to Jean Lin, Outreach Coordinator for APIDC, APIDC originated in 1998 through the work of community activist and employment attorney Patty Kanaga. According to Lin, Kanaga, who was serving at the time on a committee appointed by the California Governor’s committee to address the employment of disabled persons, organized the state’s first conference to address the AAPI community with disabilities “after she realized that AAPI with disabilities are not addressed in any way”.