The outcomes for Americans with disabilities on topics ranging from full employment to interaction with the judicial system demonstrate ongoing disparity and systemic discrimination. For example, data indicate that people with disabilities are more likely to be arrested, charged with crimes, and serve longer sentences than their non-disabled peers. Additionally, it has been estimated that 1/3 to 1/2 of all people killed by police are people with disabilities. This is particularly true of people of color, including Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, and others. Disability disproportionately impacts people of color, and it is essential that disability support providers address and work to dismantle racial injustice.
For the past several years, Disability Support Services has been working to transition from a solely medical model of disability to more of a social model of disability that incorporates a disability justice framework in the provision of services. Disability Justice, a framework conceived by a group of queer women of color who identified as disabled, interrogates ableism and its connection to other forms of oppression and focuses on intersectionality, the concept of wholeness, interdependence. The intersection of disability with race and other identities will continue to undergird the work we do in DSS moving into the 2020-2021 academic year.
During summer 2020, DSS completed a benchmarking project to identify best practices and identify ways to better provide culturally-responsive, anti-racist disability services and programming to our community. Because the social model of disability stresses that it is environments, attitudes, and structures, not an individual’s condition, that are disabling, DSS will continue to promote universal design for learning and accessibility through faculty and staff workshops/trainings. Professional development will be a key goal for the year. All staff and peer mentors will participate in implicit bias training. DSS staff will also participate in anti-racist, disability justice training from AHEAD, the Association on Higher Education and Disability.