Turning Complaints into Advocacy

Adith Thummalapalli (he/him)

(Sponsored by the UMD President’s Commission on Disability Issues)

2021 Disability Summit
April 14, 2021 – 10:10 AM-10:35 AM

Instagram: @beep.beep.its.adith
Website: https://www.facebook.com/adith.thummalapalli
Email: aditht@gmail.com


When we look at the world around us, we all notice things we don’t like or things we think are unfair. You might be tempted to complain, but will that really make a difference and solve the problem? You might be inspired to do something about it, but what can you do, and how? That something, is advocacy. There is a fine, sometimes imperceptible but vitally important, line that separates complaining from advocating. But how do we find that line and turn our complaints into advocacy? Complaining can seem so easy and advocacy can seem so hard…or is it really? Join Adith Thummalapalli, alumni member of the President’s Commission on Disability Issues, founding member of the PCDI Student Advisory Committee and author of the 2019 Campus Accessibility Report, for this brief Lightning Talk as he shares his personal experience turning his “useless” complaints into “useful” advocacy, and explores how you too can become an advocate for disability justice, or any other cause you can imagine. Becoming an advocate is as simple as asking yourself two important questions: join us to learn what these questions are and learn how Adith made a splash at Maryland with the Accessibility Report, almost by accident!


Adith Thummalapalli is a 2020 graduate of the A. James Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland, living with a neuromuscular condition called Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy. A life-long self advocate, Adith began his advocacy work in the areas of disability justice, equity, and inclusion for the disabled community five years ago in 2016, as a freshman at Maryland. He is the author of the 2019 Campus Accessibility Report, a document outlining a few barriers to access once present at UMD. He is a member of the President’s Commission on Disability Issues (PCDI) and is a cofounder of the related Student Advisory Committee (SAC), which is dedicated to expanding the voice of UMD students with disabilities and improving access and inclusion for all people. He is a member of the Disability Advisory Committee (DAC), which advises the Office of the Mayor on issues of importance to people with disabilities in his hometown of Salisbury, Maryland. He is also a member of the Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy (PPMD) Patient Adult Advisory Committee (PAAC), a group of men living with Muscular Dystrophy and committed to advocating for the needs of individuals living with Duchenne and Becker Muscular Dystrophy around the US.