Skip to content

Mission and History


The Society for Disability Studies (SDS) is a scholarly organization dedicated to promoting disability studies. More than twenty-five years of rich history has enabled the organization to reach national and international members with expertise ranging from advocacy to perspectives on disability from a variety of disciplines. Such expertise is often on display at the SDS annual conference, where hundreds of participants gather every year to share expertise, perspectives, and community. Members also engage in vibrant discussions on member-only electronic lists with participation ranging from some of the most senior scholars in the field to rising graduate student stars.

SDS’s proudest accomplishment is one of the most successful and the leading journals on disability studies. International in scope, Disability Studies Quarterly (DSQ) provides scholars, activists, artists with disabilities, and others to consider the experience of disability in the written form.

We welcome your participation. Browse this website to learn more about DSQ and other ways to be involved with the Society for Disability Studies.


The Society for Disability Studies (SDS) is a non-profit organization that promotes the study of disability in social, cultural, and political contexts. Disability Studies recognizes that disability is a key aspect of human experience, and that the study of disability has important political, social, and economic implications for society as a whole, including both disabled and nondisabled people. Through research, artistic production, teaching and activism, the Society for Disability Studies seeks to augment understanding of disability in all cultures and historical periods, to promote greater awareness of the experiences of disabled people, and to advocate for social change.


Through its annual conference and its journal, the Society for Disability Studies has made great strides in moving disability studies as a discipline. None of this progress would have been possible had it not for the dedicated founders of this organization who had the vision to lead the field to the ultimate goal. Listed below are the names of these great founders:

  • Daryl Evans
  • Nora Groce
  • Steve Hey
  • Gary Kiger
  • John Seidel
  • Jessica Scheer
  • Irving Kenneth Zola (1935-1994)

SDS History

Founded in 1982 as the Section for the Study of Chronic Illness, Impairment, and Disability (SSCIID), the organization was renamed the Society for Disability Studies in 1986. The Society maintains affiliation status with the Western Social Science Association (WSSA) through its Chronic Disease and Disability Section. SDS currently has hundreds of national and international members who contribute their energy and expertise to making disability studies a large part of academic conversations.