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SDS Principles

Society for Disability Studies Principles

Introduction:

The Society for Disability Studies (SDS) aims to highlight the strength of our collective work and the importance of bringing multiple voices together to co-construct the future of disability studies across multiple landscapes - academia, community, grassroots movements, art communities, and organizations. Understanding that our growth and contributions are vital, and that disability studies adopts a critical interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approach to scholarly inquiry in solidarity with grassroots disability movements, we welcome emerging activists, artists, leaders, and scholars to join established SDS, and DS communities, SDS panels, discussions, workshops, and other collaborations. Disability studies and SDS have emerging roles in helping to elevate the voices of Disability Justice activists and in connecting with work in the Global South, especially promoting intersectional scholarly and advocacy work. These relationships lead SDS to critically (re)examine, (re)theorize, (re)approach,(re)imagine, and (re)value disability, care and access work globally. Focusing on the emergent in disability studies (e.g., topics, approaches, and communities where it has not mobilized yet) might better honor goals for prioritizing vital work being done by grassroots leaders, centering disabled voices and experiences at the intersection of multiple oppressions. Considering our privileged position and our responsibility in addressing these needs, we recognize that meaningful collaboration and acknowledgement of interdependence in this work are key.

Principles:

  1. The Society for Disability Studies (SDS) recognizes that disability is a key aspect of the human experience, and adopts an integrative approach to representing disability at the intersection of multiple identities and expressions.
  2. SDS affirms that Disability Studies has important socioeconomic, political, cultural, and affectual implications for everyone.
  3. SDS promotes a multifocal approach to disability through an active engagement with research, artistic production, teaching, and activism.
  4. SDS understands the disability experience and process as multiple and fluid. Not one aspect of disability is universal as it intersects with multiple identities, including race and ethnicity, class, age, gender, sexuality, language, citizenship status, religion, and other markers of difference.
  5. SDS welcomes all people to participate and contribute to cultivating an approach to disability that assumes everyone to be the expert of their own lived experience.
  6. SDS understands that disability is an embodied experience that is also a source of cultural meaning and collective identity-making.
  7. SDS is committed to revitalizing an understanding of disability in all historical periods, geographies, and cultures as well as promoting greater awareness of the experiences of disabled people, in order to advocate for life sustaining practices and overall positive social transformation.
  8. SDS understands that the disability experience animates various ways of being across the globe and that disabled people espouse different cultural practices and beliefs, as well as seek different affordances and distinct political agendas.
  9. SDS recognizes and commits to lessening the gap between disability research, artistic production, scholarship, teaching, and the many issues that impact the everyday lives of grassroots disability communities living at the intersection of multiple oppressions.
  10. SDS affirms each disabled person’s right to choose the terminology that best represents their identity, world view, and purpose, and recognizes that identity-first and person-first language are both, among many others, valid forms of reflecting one’s personal preference and situated disability experience.
  11. SDS aims to highlight the strength of our collective work and the importance of bringing multiple voices together to co-construct the future of disability studies across multiple landscapes - academia, grassroots movements, art communities, and organizations.
  12. SDS is committed to amplifying Disability Justice activism, connecting with work in the Global South, and promoting intersectional scholarly and advocacy work. SDS affirms that the disability experience is created by systems of white supremacy, cisheteropatriarchy, colonialism and racism, and seeks to elevate the leadership of racialized Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC).
  13. SDS seeks to cultivate and nurture transnational relationships that can lead to critically (re)examine, (re)theorize, (re)approach, and (re)imagine disability, interdependence, and an expansive notion of access globally.
  14. SDS opposes abusive behavior modification masquerading as therapeutic and protective as well as all forms of inflicted pain, negative stimulus, and forced intervention.
  15. SDS is committed to fostering equity across various forms of expression and in multiple contexts. We therefore support and validate all forms of communication and methods.

Adopted by the SDS board (2021) with Policy & Publications committee Leadership by Sara M. Acevedo and contributions from the board of directors and disability community.