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SDS @ OSU Program

Highlights of Sessions & Events Organized by the Society for Disability Studies (full program below):

  • Monday Evening: Informal SDS Reception and Supper in the Blackwell Conference Hotel Presidential Suite from 6pm on (BYOB).
  • Tuesday and Wednesday: 8:30am to 3:30pm:  Concurrent Paper Panels and Discussions.
  • Tuesday Morning: Lecture by Dr. Nirmala Erevelles, 2017 SDS Senior Scholar:  “Scenes of Subjection”:  Disability, Race, and the Spectacle of Black Suffering.
  • Tuesday Afternoon: SDS Paper Workshops & Posters at the Student Poster Reception.
  • Tuesday Evening: DISCO Ball. Start picking out your dancing outfit, because the SDS DANCE IS BACK! Tuesday, April 17, 7-11 pm, including a vegetarian dinner and welcoming address by Mimi Khúc. This event is sponsored by the Ohio State Disability Studies Program; DISCO Graduate Student Caucus; English Department Diversity & Inclusion Committee; Sexuality Studies Program; and Office of the ADA Coordinator. There is no charge for this event, but attendees must RSVP by April 9th using this registration form, so we know how much dinner to order.
  • Wednesday Evening: SDS Salon. Connect, reflect, and look forward! All are invited to this SDS community gathering on Wednesday, April 18, 5:30-10pm. Please RSVP on Eventbrite as soon as possible to guarantee your space. We will showcase a reading by Anne Finger from her new novel, along with discussions, an art display, and a town hall for SDS members & friends. Dinner will be provided. There is no charge for the SDS Salon but donations are most welcome.

Two Free Public Lectures sponsored by OSU:

Rectifying the Tilt: Reasonable Accommodation, Affirmative Action and Disability:  Chai Feldblum, Commissioner, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, presents the 2018 Ken Campbell Lecture on Disability Law and Policy. Tuesday, April 17, 3:45 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Followed by the Student Poster Reception and SDS Paper Workshops.

Disability in Art and Life: Artist Riva Lehrer and author Nicola Griffith present the 2018 Ethel Louise Armstrong Lecture on Disability Arts and Culture. Wednesday, April 18, 3:45 p.m. – 4:45 p.m. Riva Lehrer is the 2017 recipient of the SDS President’s Award!



6:00pm onward Informal SDS Reception in the Blackwell Conference Hotel Presidential Suite (BYOB).


8:30-10:00am Bridging Disability Studies with Marginalized Communities, Movements, and Fields

  • Exploring Intersections of Aging and Disability through the “Greying” of Disability Studies. Hailee Yoshizaki-Gibbons, University of Illinois at Chicago
  • Identifying as an Autistic Person of Color. Timotheus “TJ” Gordon, University of Illinois at Chicago
  • Mad Studies and Disability Studies: Potential Connections for Community Building and Social Transformation. Meghann O’Leary, University of Illinois at Chicago
  • Mad Studies and Disability Studies: Subversive Relatives. Lzz Johnk, Oregon State University

Moderator: Michelle Nario-Redmond, Hiram College

Abstract: As a highly interdisciplinary and critical field, Disability Studies provides numerous opportunities to disrupt oppressive discourses and structures through a “radical re-imagining of possibilities” (Erevelles). Despite this, Disability Studies has only recently began engaging in intersectional analyses related to race, madness, and old age. This panel considers future directions of Disability Studies by exploring the complex and critical intersections between: aging and disability, Black and Autistic identity, and Disability Studies and Mad Studies. The authors examine theoretical connections as a way to generate increased activism and community building.

8:30-10:00am Disability in Public: Representations, Stereotypes, and Policies

  • The Price of Disability Rights: Public Suspicion and the Disability Con. Doron Dorfman, Stanford Law School
  • Before the Backlash: Disability and Welfare in Early American Political Culture. Jeff Brune, Gallaudet University
  • From Welfare to Urban Planning: The Case of Municipal Accessibility Professionalization. Mariela Yabo, Tel Aviv University
  • Complicating Perceived Authenticity of Disability Representations. Nicole Sims, University of Illinois at Chicago

Moderator: Elizabeth Jones, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Abstract: This session “Disability in Public” addresses the SDS strand theme: what contributions do academic Disability Studies insights make to what becomes public knowledge about disability? Doron Dorfman analyzes the disability con stereotype—faking disabilities and abusing the law—as a phenomenon that dramatically affects both the public legitimacy of disability law and the lives of disabled individuals. Using a mixed-methods approach, this project systematically describes and analyzes public suspicions of disability con, identifies the situations that aggravate the suspicion, and proposes interventions to enhance the public’s trust in disability law. Jeff Brune’s paper focuses on the early-nineteenth-century emergence of a “welfare equilibrium” in American political culture that liberalized pension programs and defended the worthiness of welfare recipients, but also allowed limited fears of fraud to influence the administration of benefits. It undermines current assumptions about the inevitability of fears of welfare fraud. Mariela Yabo uses Tel Aviv-Jaffa municipality as a case study to examine the implementation of disability legislation and translation of the social model of disability into planning practices, arguing that the professionalization of accessibility affects the level of participation of people with disabilities, due to the technical nature of planning professions. Nicole Sims addresses the ways in which pervasive representations of Stephen Hawking have been used to bolster the public’s knowledge of disability as these representations are perceived to be authentic, enlisting Jane Hawking’s two memoirs as locations to study how authenticity is used as a rhetorical tool to inform cultural understandings of disability.

10:15-11:45am “Scenes of Subjection”: Disability, Race, and the Spectacle of Black Suffering

Lecture by Nirmala Erevelles, University of Alabama. Professor Erevelles is the recipient of the 2017 Senior Scholar Award from the Society for Disability Studies, recognizing her extraordinary scholarship, service, mentoring, and leadership.

Abstract: In this presentation, I trouble the ways that critical scholars of difference turn away from the spectral presence of disability in search of more empowering narratives. The alternative narratives they support recreate limiting theorizations of the human/posthuman that continue to support ableist representations of disability. Refusing this disavowal of disability, I insist on looking (not straight but queerly) at disability in a defiant refusal of ableism to argue that disability, rather than being an additive to the discourses of intersectionality, is constitutive of other categories of difference within the historical materialist conditions of transnational capitalism (Erevelles, 2011). Drawing on the work of African American literary scholar Saidiya Hartman and award winning fiction writer Jesmyn Ward, I discuss the implications for re-envisioning futures as if disability as a historical materialist category really matters in public space at the intersections of social difference.

Moderator: Karen Nakamura, University of California Berkeley

2:00-3:30pm Disrupting the Landscape of Higher Education

  • 2:00-2:45pm Multiple Perspectives on an Introduction to Disabilities Class: Views from All Parts of the Classroom. Molly Kelly, Ashley Johnson, Sarah Camino, Megan Zahneis, Courtney Hineman, and Anna Hill, Miami University
  • 2:45-3:30pm Resisting Ableism in Higher Education: Applying Intersectional Disability Elisa Abes and Michelle Wallace, Miami University

Moderator: April Coughlin, SUNY New Paltz

Discussion 1 Multiple Perspectives on an Introduction to Disabilities Class: Views from All Parts of the Classroom. Abstract: The purpose of the “Introduction to Disability Studies” class at Miami University is to challenge dominant assumptions about disability and to critically interrogate the social, cultural and political factors that shape the hegemonic narrative. Much scholarly work is engaged in this course to achieve this goal. The addition of the real-time voices of students who identify as disabled in the form of undergraduate assistants adds a richness to the course experience and brings the critical theory to life in a meaningful way. The addition of a student who took the course and, consequently experienced a transformed sense of identity and empowerment, as co-teacher provides a model for the critical outcome that is the intent of the course. Rooted in critical theory, the course is intended to facilitate real, measurable change in society and the combination of these multiple voices brings that to fruition.

Discussion 2 Resisting Ableism in Higher Education: Applying Intersectional Disability Studies. Abstract: The intersectional narrative study upon which this discussion is based explored the relationship between intersectional ableism and the experiences of college students with physical disabilities. Participants included 13 college students with diverse physical disabilities and diverse racial, gender, and sexual orientation identities. Findings revealed that participants experienced “intersectional erasure” on their campuses. Participants resisted intersectional erasure by searching for elusive homes in their physical bodies and spaces. We will draw on the study results to discuss how higher education professionals can move from accommodation to intersectional inclusion, treat disability as an intersectional social identity, respect the socially constructed and physical realities of disabled bodies, and amplify disabled students’ resistance to ableism. Together, we will generate strategies for creating home on college campuses for diverse disabled students.

4:30-7:00pm Student Poster Reception & Ethel Louise Armstrong Student Poster Competitions

SDS Posters & Paper Workshops

7:00-11:00pm DISCO Ball: A Celebration with the Society for Disability Studies

Please note that you will also be asked to fill out a more detailed RSVP for this reception / dance event.

The DISCO Ball is sponsored by the Ohio State Disability Studies Program; DISCO Graduate Student Caucus; English Department Diversity & Inclusion Committee; Sexuality Studies Program; and Office of the ADA Coordinator. There is no charge for this event. It will include a vegetarian dinner, welcoming address by Mimi Khúc, and the SDS Dance.


9:00-10:30am Teaching / Learning Audio Description: Bringing Together Digital Media Studies and Disability Studies

Margaret Price, Leah Bashaw, Perry Meyer, Ashley Emanuel, Erin Kathleen Bahl, Rachel Elliott, Laila Ujayli, Kaleigh Robbins, Ohio State University

Moderator: Ai Binh Ho, University of Michigan

Abstract: This presentation offers an in-depth and practical experience with a topic of critical importance to the disability community: Audio description (AD). This topic has received some scholarly attention, but it relatively rarely comes into play in our own classrooms or even our own conferences. At the same time, AD is a lively topic in disability activism, including actions by the American Council of the Blind (ACB) and other community-based organizations. This roundtable is an effort to share knowledge about AD and also offer participants concrete strategies for engaging AD in their own classrooms, presentations, and other places of work. It reviews both popular and scholarly conversations about AD, including the notorious question of what “bias” or “objectivity” mean when offering descriptions. It also offers a grounding in what AD means in various contexts, including film, live theater, art, television, and other settings. Each participant will share a classroom project in which they produced an audio-described infographic, video, or webtext. The audience will be encouraged to discuss their own pedagogical and practical experiences with, or ideas for, AD. The overall goal is to enable audience members to implement or refine their current practices when they return to their own classrooms, places of work, and activist spaces.

9:00-10:30am Resistant Practices: Early Childhood Education and Artful Advocacy from Neurodiversity Perspectives

  • Technologies for Autonomy: Supporting Autistic Self-Determination. Anna Williams, University of Florida
  • Application of Disability Studies and Neurodiversity Paradigm in Therapeutic and Educational Settings. Melody Latimer, Disability Consultant
  • Towards a Neuroqueer Curriculum: Queer Children, Deviant Bodies, and the “Helping Professions.” Robin Roscigno, Rutgers University
  • Listen2Us: Shifting Misconceptions About Nonspeaking People. DJ Savarese, Open Society Foundations Human Rights Initiative Youth Fellow and Co-Producer and Subject of DEEJ

Moderator: Sara M. Acevedo, California Institute of Integral Studies

Abstract: This panel considers resistant practices in the areas of education and art, which embrace autonomy for autistic children and disrupt societal misconceptions about nonspeaking people. Critical Disability Studies has explored the ways that schools normalize and perpetuate ableism. Disability Studies in Education has emerged as a locale for scholars questioning the medical models of contemporary special education and seeking alternative pedagogies. Out of this work emerges a critical question regarding early childhood education; the question of what exactly “intervening” means in relationship to early intervention services. Anna Williams, Melody Latimer, and Robin Roscigno address the ways that early childhood education for autistic children has been shaped by behaviorism and posit resistance strategies. Through theoretical models such as neuroqueerness and self-determination theory, they will examine new models of early childhood education that embrace autonomy though technologies of accommodation. DJ Savarese’s presentation illustrates the ways in which poetry, visual arts, and filmmaking are used to promote literacy, communication, and self-representation for nonspeaking people. Society’s ignorance of their own ignorance costs nonspeaking people their lives, when they are presumed incompetent and denied training in literacy and communication skills. The Arts can unearth and disrupt societal misconceptions about who we nonspeaking people are and what we hope to do with our lives.

10:45-12:15 Locating Disability Studies in Academia, Social Movements, Science, and Parenting

  • “Doctors Say I’m the Illest ‘Cause I’m Sufferin’ from Realness:” Disability Studies, Rap, and Mental Illness. Kylie Boazman, University at Buffalo
  • Disability and the Indian Nation-State: Questions of Care and Recognition. Shruti Vaidya, University of Chicago
  • How would Blind Scientists Discover the Stars?: Reimagining Basic Scientific Progress. Sheri Wells-Jensen, Bowling Green State University
  • Theory, Practice, and Perspectives: Disability Studies and Parenting Children with Dis/abilities. Kelly Vaughan, Purdue University Northwest; Gia Super, University of Illinois at Chicago

Moderator: Carol Goldin, Rutgers University

Abstract: This session “Locating Disability Studies” examines the SDS strand theme: Where has academic Disability Studies not yet fulfilled its promise to enhance perspectives in other disciplines, practices, and social movements? Kylie Boazman’s paper draws on examples of rap music to suggest possible ways for disability studies to talk about race, gender, and mental illness, to relate to music studies, and to further push beyond the “White Disability Studies” critique made by Christopher Bell? Shruti Vaidya explores how insights from theorizations on care, recognition, state, and disability can help us understand the relationship the Indian nation-state has with its disabled citizens. Sheri Wells-Jensen asks how science would have begun and how it would have progressed if early humans who hypothesized about the stars were blind. What impact does reimagining science from a disability perspective have on what questions are considered and how science is approached? Kelly Vaughan and Gia Super use auto-ethnographical reflection to theorize about what parenting from a Disability Studies perspective looks like, and what role parents have in Disability Studies theorizing.

2:00-3:30 Vulnerability and Storytelling: Transforming Classroom and Campus Communities

  • Proposition as Pedagogy: Doran George’s ‘Can We Have Sex’. Amanda Apgar, UCLA
  • “I just want to Help”: Interrogating Paternalism and the Desire to be “Good” in the University Classroom. Mana Hayakawa, UCLA
  • Touch and Sports: Vulnerabilities in Practice. Ariel Hernandez, UCLA
  • College Students with Intellectual Disabilities’ Stories about Micro-Aggressions and -Affirmations. Laura T. Eisenman, University of Delaware

Abstract: This panel offers presentations on Disability Studies pedagogy and storytelling by college students from marginalized groups. Centering vulnerability in the community space of the classroom, the speakers address how educators can enable students to embrace vulnerability not only as a means to learning, but also an approach to challenge normative ideals of academic achievement. Exploring questions about the de-sexualization of academic spaces (Amanda Apgar), how to get students to think critically about the concept of “helping” (Mana Hayakawa), and the element of touch in teaching disabled athletes (Ariel Hernandez), they theorize new vulnerabilities and develop pedagogical praxis mindful of power in the classroom. Laura Eisenman highlights the unique nature of stories about campus micro-aggressions and -affirmations told by students with intellectual disability and considers implications for building inclusive campus communities.

5:30-10:00pm SDS Salon: Reflections and Connections

Connect, reflect, and look forward! All are invited to this SDS community gathering on Wednesday evening. We will showcase a reading by Anne Finger along with discussions, workshops, and a membership visioning session. Dinner will be provided. Please note that you will be asked to fill out a more detailed RSVP with your accommodation and dietary needs. There is no charge for this event, but donations are most welcome.

  • Reading: Anne Finger's new novel, A Woman, In Bed
  • Discussion: Disabling Borders and Enabling Bridges: Disability Justice in Scholarly Activism. Holly Pearson, Framingham State University; Sara M. Acevedo, California Institute of Integral Studies; Emily A. Nusbaum, University of San Francisco; Nicola A. McClung, University of San Francisco
  • Discussion: But Captions are So Intrusive and other Anti-Access Microaggressions. Cheryl Green, MFA, MS, New Day Films and 2017 AIR New Voices Scholar
  • Art Exhibit: To Give a Voice: Photographic Portraits and Oral History Recordings of the Disability Community. Mark D. Wittig, Oklahoma State University