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Mission and History


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.


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’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.


Through its annual conference and its journal, the Society for Disability Studies has been instrumental in establishing disability studies as a discipline. None of this progress would have been possible had it not for the dedicated founders of this organization, whose collaborative efforts helped form the field we continue to build upon today:


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