Photo credit: Mysi Anne Grubbe
Image description: Rachel is standing adjacent to a wall in an art gallery, sandwiched between large, colorful paintings. She is looking up and to the right at a not visible image in the distance. She has hazel eyes and is smiling. She has brown hair which is curled halfway. She is wearing a dress that is black with a sparkling pattern made up of round shapes of various sizes.
Her name is Rachel Arfa. She was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, where she now resides. Ms. Arfa is an attorney at Equip for Equality, Illinois’ governor designated protection and advocacy organization which advocates for civil and human rights of people with disabilities. Ms. Arfa is the President of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Bar Association (DHHBA). In December, 2019, she led a group of 10 deaf and hard of hearing attorneys at the United States Supreme Court, where she made a motion front of the nine Supreme Court Justices in American Sign Language and spoken English so that the attorneys would be admitted into the Supreme Court Bar. Chief Justice Roberts granted the motion, using both ASL and English.
Ms. Arfa is also an advocate for making our cultural spaces accessible; she serves on the Chicago Cultural Accessibility Consortium (CCAC), and works with Chicago area theaters, museums and outdoor spaces to increase accessibility for people with disabilities. Ms. Arfa also works to make our political process more accessible by helping candidates for elected office ensure their campaigns are accessible to people with disabilities. Ms. Arfa has also been engaged with the Women’s March Chicago since its beginning, initiating and leading accessibility for the large scale Women’s Marches in January 2017, 2018 which had between 250,000 to 300,000 participants. In January 2020, Ms. Arfa walked in the Chicago Women’s March with Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot.