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Interest Groups

What is an interest group?

SDS has a highly interdisciplinary, engaged, and growing membership. Interest groups (IGs) afford SDS members with similar interests a structure and resources to explore, connect, and grow within SDS. At the same time, IGs can clarify and promote the changing priorities of both an organization and a field.

Interest Groups are, like the title suggests, interest-based, and hence serve programmatic and networking functions. SDS will provide meeting space at the annual conference for Interest Groups within site capacity. Dedicated conference panels (with proper advance notice) are unique to Interest Groups and not a function of Caucuses.

Teaching Disability

Disability Studies is becoming a solid, mature part of many universities’ curricula. This interest group brings together those who teach Disability Studies courses or disability-related units in their classes. As an interest group, it will be a place to exchange ideas, curriculum, and syllabi, as well as support each other in developing disability content for courses.

Sponsored by Beth Haller and Matthew Wangeman

Work, Employment and Society

The purpose of the Special Interest Group on Work, Employment & Society (WES) is to cultivate a community of disability studies scholars who have an interest in and/or are doing work in this area of research and policy; generating a forum for discussing contemporary issues in the field, as well as organizing a panel on work, employment and society at the SDS Annual Meeting. We have a new Work, Employment & Society Google Group, click the link to join.

Sponsored by Kate Caldwell and Sarah Parker Harris.

How to join an existing IG

In the future, new and renewing SDS members will have an opportunity to join IGs by checking the appropriate box and adding to their SDS membership renewal the $10 IG annual fee for each IG they wish to join. IG member fees are non-refundable. Until these features are added to our membership materials, please email sds (at) disstudies (dot) org. if you would like to join an Interest Group.

Interest Group Guidelines

The SDS Board has drafted the following guidelines to encourage and support groups with a coherent vision and field of interest. Please note that while both Interest Groups and Caucuses represent possible Constituency Groups within SDS, Interest Groups are defined differently from Caucuses. Caucuses designate groups that are under-represented within society or SDS as an organization; it is up to a caucus to determine whether its membership is restricted to an identity group or to include its allies, for instance.

SDS currently has five existing caucuses: People of Color caucus, Student caucus, Queer caucus, International caucus*, and Neurodiversity caucus. Any new caucus proposals must be submitted to the Board.

Interest Groups are, as the title suggests, interest-based, and hence serve programmatic and networking functions. The SDS conference program committee will do its best to schedule meeting space at the annual conference for both Caucuses and Interest Groups within site capacity, but please note that 1.) the possibility to have dedicated conference panels (with proper advance notice) is now unique to Interest Groups; and 2.) SDS continues to be committed to scheduling non-overlapping Caucus meetings, but cannot guarantee the same for Interest Groups.
*Please note that the International caucus’ status as a caucus or as a Global Disability research interest group is undecided, and will be pending until the meeting in June.

Pilot Period

After a period of three years (in 2017), the SDS Board will conduct a review of Interest Group guidelines and implementation, again with the opportunity for input from members.

How to Achieve IG Status

To achieve IG status, a group must complete the IG application form and collect the signatures of at least 15 SDS members. The application and list of signatures should be sent in as a scanned .pdf to with IG APPLICATION in the subject line (alternatively, hard copies of both can be mailed to the SDS Executive Office). IG applications will be considered on a rolling basis. All signatories must be current members of SDS on the date of receipt.

The IG liaison for SDS will notify the designated contact person for the IG within 4 weeks of receipt of the application. If the IG is accepted, information about the IG will be added to the SDS website within 6 weeks of submitting the application.
 The membership year begins on January 1. By the final day of the June conference, a minimum of 5 members must identify themselves as IG members and have paid the minimal fee associated ($10).
 With the important condition that SDS has the capacity and resources to support it, a thoughtful, thorough, and relevant IG application will not be denied.

How to Join an Existing IG

New and renewing SDS members have an opportunity to join IGs by checking the appropriate box and adding to their SDS membership renewal the $10 IG annual fee for each IG they wish to join. IG member fees are non-refundable.


Once approved, an IG enjoys considerable support from SDS:

  • Free accessible meeting space at the annual conference
    • Requests for meeting space must be submitted via the universal registration portal of the annual SDS conference and must be received by the “presenter” deadline.
    • A minimum of two IG members must register to attend the annual meeting
    • Requests for accommodation (i.e. CART, ASL) must accompany meeting requests; accommodations cannot be arranged at a later date.
    • Meeting slots are 50 minutes in length; IG meetings are scheduled such that they do not compete with peer-reviewed sessions.
  • A dedicated listserv for ongoing discussion among IG members
. To request a dedicated listserv, send an email to with REQUEST FOR IG LISTSERV and the name and approved description of the IG for which you are making the request.
  • Access to SDS communication tools
      • IGs are encouraged to meet throughout the year.
      • Free tools such as Skype and Google+ exist, of course, but approved IGs can also request use of the SDS conference call service by sending an email to with CONFERENCE CALL SERVICE in the subject line. Such requests must be made at least two weeks in advance of the call. A single IG may use the conference line up to 4 times per year with total duration not to exceed 4 hours.
        • Two years from the date of approval, an IG is optionally entitled to one proposed session at the annual meeting. This session would be part of the open call for submissions and the IG would review papers submitted for it.
          • For the general SDS call for papers to include the IG’s call for submissions, the IG session title and organizer’s contact information must be received by the SDS program chair by August 15 the fall prior to the conference.
          • Full IG session proposals including contact information, presentation title and abstract for all presentations must be submitted via the universal conference submission portal on the SDS website by the deadline for proposals.
          • IG sessions may be in any of the typical SDS session formats: panel (typically four papers), discussion, workshop, performance, or film screening. (SDS cannot pay performers or screening rights for films).
          • Participants agree to follow guidelines for accessible presentations as published annually by the board, including captioning and / or audio description of all visual aids and materials
          • IG session organizers are invited to contact the program committee for support or advice regarding the session. For example, organizers may need a 4th presenter to fill out the session; there may be an individual proposal in program committee that would work well.


          • IGs are not exclusive. IG members agree to welcome all members of SDS who are interested in the group’s area of interest. IG members must strive to ensure equal access and resources and an equal right to full participation for all its members. (An obvious exception is the eventual IG session at the annual conference, which may well involve selecting from among a large number of submissions.)
          • To maintain active status, an IG must have a membership of at least 5 members (including the contact person) as indicated through their membership form.
          • All IG members must maintain membership in SDS and pay the annual IG fee of $10.
          • The IG contact person is expected to reply to correspondence with the SDS IG liaison in a timely manner, preferably within three business days.
          • The IG contact person should submit an annual update to the SDS IG liaison by September 1 each year. This annual update should include: 1.) a list of active IG members; 2.) a brief record of meetings held over the course of the year; 3.) a brief summary of activities held at the annual conference, and 4.) updated information for the primary contact (as applicable).

          IGs that are not being sustained by their members per the conditions described herein will be deactivated to make room for others.