Beyond Accessibility: Centering Disability Justice

Disability Pride FlagThe BIPOC Cataloging Project has created our next author collection of library resources in honor of Disability Pride Month, the Disabled and Neurodiverse Authors Collection. The goals of the BIPOC cataloging project are to highlight marginalized voices, to promote the authority of lived experiences, and to improve access and aid in the discovery of these voices. This collection gathers library resources from disabled and neurodiverse authors to highlight the authority of their lived experiences. 

Disability Justice is a term coined by queer and disabled activists of color Patty Berne, Mia Mingus, and Stacey Milbern of the Disability Justice Collective in 2005. Disability Justice differs from the Disability Rights Movement in that it centers the experiences of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, Trans, Non-binary, and Gender-Noncomforming disabled folks, and disabled folks existing at the intersections of marginalized identities. Disability Justice also seeks to address the root cause of disability oppression; ableism. Ableism is the systemic discrimination and prejudice toward people with disabilities.

One criticism of the Disability Rights Movement is that it focused too closely on the symptoms of ableism vs. addressing eradicating ableism itself. Additionally, the Disability Rights Movement has been criticized for focusing largely on folks with mobility impairments at the expense of neurodivergent, chronically ill, or sick folks.

While accessibility is one way to make space for disabled folks to participate in public life, it’s important to examine our spaces, policies, practices, and language to ensure they are inclusive and not reinforcing ableism. In my new role here at the DePaul University Library as the Librarian and Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility Coordinator, I am a resource for students, faculty, and staff regarding accessibility and the DePaul University Library. However, it is everyone’s responsibility to examine their abled privilege using educational tools like Autisic Hoya’s Brief Abled Privilege Checklist (PDF) and help transform our society into one that facilitates access for disabled people, and not as an afterthought.

Selected Resources from the Disabled and Neurodiverse Authors Collection:

Disability Visibility: First Person Stories from the Twenty-First Century

Edited by Alice Wong

Decarcerating Disability: Deinstitutionalization and Prison Abolition

By Lia Ben-Moshe

Feminist, Queer, Crip

By Alison Kafer

Just checking : scenes from the life of an obsessive-compulsive

By Emily Colas


By Iasmin Omar Ata

The secret life of a Black Aspie: a Memoir

By Anand Prahlad

Bright Not Broken: Gifted Kids, ADHD, and Autism

By Diane M. Kennedy, Rebecca S. Banks and Temple Grandin

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