*REVISED* Call for Submissions: TFW Forum on Disabilities, Ableism, and Disability Studies - The Feminist Wire

*REVISED* Call for Submissions: TFW Forum on Disabilities, Ableism, and Disability Studies

Eddie Ndopu and Alyssa Zisk, forum co-editors, and the TFW Editorial Collective would like to thank Amanda Mennis for writing a more accessible version of the following call for submissions:

We have noticed recently that more people in academia have taken an interest in talking about disability. For instance, at a recent conference on “Cripistemologies,” people who study disability talked with people who study gender and sexuality about many topics, including animals, chronic pain and injury, and how transgender people express themselves and are seen, especially focusing on their bodies.

We like to bring together different areas of study and talk about how they can work together, and we think it’s important to talk about justice and injustice and how they affect how we think. But we’re not sure how to feel about the fact that people from other academic fields suddenly want to talk about disability studies, especially since people who study disabilities have been thinking and talking about important things for a long time before now. How does it affect disabled people when people talk about disability as a way to understand the relationships between humans and animals, for example? We need to talk critically about what it means for disabled people when able people use their lives and experiences to make points that aren’t about disability justice.

So that’s why we thought we needed this forum. We ask: Why are people who didn’t talk about disability before talking about it now? Whom does it affect, and how, to talk about disability as part of discussions about other kinds of injustice? Is it harmful to disabled people when able people use their lives and experiences as a metaphor for other things? How will it affect the field of disability studies that already exists, when people in other fields of study start paying attention to it? Will the academic study of disabilities by people in other fields have an effect on the people in disability studies who focus on real-world experiences and meeting real needs? And how can the academic study of disability learn from activists and people who work to improve the lives of disabled people?

We also thought it would be good to talk about disability itself, and we hope this forum will provide a safe space to do so. Here are some questions and ideas we hope the forum will talk about:

What is it like to be disabled in the 21st century? How are disabled people’s experiences different because of where they live, the technology they can use, how much money they have, their race, and the fact that some disabilities are invisible?

What different kinds of identities (race, gender, class) are often forgotten when we talk about disability and disabled people’s experiences, and what kind of harm does that do?

We think race, class, and gender are the three big ways that people are classified that affect their lives. What’s the best way to talk about those without forgetting about or ignoring disabled people’s experiences?

How should feminism address disabilities? What is it like to be a disabled feminist?

When we talk about “disability” like it’s just one thing, does that cause us to ignore the many different kinds of disabilities and the many different experiences of disabled people?

What are some good and bad things about disability feminism?

What are good things that people and organizations do now to challenge ableism?

What is disability? What does it mean to be disabled?

Which people and what topics are missing from the conversation about disability?

How do other kinds of discrimination and injustice interact with ableism?

We welcome you to submit things you have written or created on the topic of disability. We want all kinds of submissions, including visual art, ASL videos, and other adaptive formats! Our guidelines and submission form are here. If you have questions about something you’d like to submit, send us a note.

If you’d like to send us a submission, please send it by October 10, 2013. The forum will be in late October and early November.

The initial CFP can be found here.


  1. Luz Guerra

    September 18, 2013 at 8:22 am

    Hermanas – there is no link to the guidelines and submission form.

    • Heidi R. Lewis

      October 2, 2013 at 11:36 am

      Hi Luz! Click the “submit” link in the second-to-last paragraph. Thanks for your consideration!

  2. Cate Smith

    September 18, 2013 at 10:58 am

    I attended a State University of New York and simply going to the ladies room while there was a nightmare. I explain, in explicit terms, the physical pain and difficulty, the solutions I was forced to improvise and the humiliation I experienced when I finally realized I was going to have to start wearing an adult diaper whenever I was on site.

    This letter went to a liason and an administrator and on a 3 way call they explained that though they were sorry for my trouble, strictly speaking their facilities comply with the letter of the law if not the spirit so they were under no obligation to accommodate.

    I reminded them that until very recently the disable access door leading into the entire administrative suite had not been working for two years and that I had been a good sport about that even though it was obviously non-compliant legally. Couldn’t they at least make it so I didn’t have to wear a diaper on campus?

    The administrator told us she would tour the facility herself and we would regroup afterward.

    That was last year. I am now a graduate and cannot even get this administrator to return a call. Apparently the real solution to the lack of access was to wait me out because the real problem was me.

  3. HolLynn D'Lil

    September 20, 2013 at 12:39 am

    Dear Cate: Your civil rights as protected by Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act and The Americans with Disabilities Act may have been violated. You have the right to seek the services of a private attorney to being suit to correct those violations and to provide compensatory damage awards to you.

  4. Greg

    September 25, 2013 at 11:46 pm

    hi, i appreciate the note that this callout has been edited to be more accessible .. however it still doesn’t seem to me to describe exactly what ‘having a forum’ means .. can you please explain a bit more? thanks

    • Alyssa Z

      October 4, 2013 at 3:32 am

      In this case it means people write stuff and send it in and we post stuff. Since there are comments enabled, people can also comment on the stuff that is posted.
      This is the asking for people to write stuff and send it in.