• Outdoor Section 504 rally depicting the American Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities (ACCD) at Lafayette Park opposite the White House on April 26, 1977.

    Equity, Inclusion, & Disability

    An educational resource series for the UMass Amherst community

Disability Justice Education Toolkit: Cultural Awareness

Disability Justice Education Toolkit: Cultural Awareness

The Disability Justice Education Toolkit series was developed by the Office of Equity & Inclusion in collaboration with campus partners to provide the UMass Amherst community with foundational knowledge and language regarding disability as a social identity. 

It is intended to provide access points for learning, reflection, and engagement for ALL community members, including people with disabilities, and those who seek to be in active allyship.

This toolkit series invites the UMass community to…

  • Consider what we know (or think we know!) about disability,
  • Explore the impact of socialization and dominant cultural narratives on our understanding of disability,
  • Practice applying disability justice as a LENS that will repeatedly ask us:
    • What does it mean to think and act in anti-ableist ways? 
    • How does disability interact with other aspects of social identity, particularly for community members who experience marginalization around multiple sites of identity?
    • How can we treat disability justice as a way of perceiving the world, not just an inclusivity “checklist item”?

The Office of Equity & Inclusion is grateful to all our campus partners who contributed to the creation of this toolkit series.

Special thanks to Rachel Adams, Michele Cooke-Andresen, Melinda LeLacheur, Marcie Savoie, Ashley Woodman, April Bellafiore, Samm Delorey, Nora Fitzgerald, Kate Hudson, Griffin Leistinger, Hillary Montague-Asp, Penn Pritchard, Marcel Raisbeck, Sam Sattin-Torres, Davey Shlasko, Fred Zinn, and Linda Ziegenbein.  

Defining Disability

Defining disability is more complex than it might seem! When asked to imagine a person with a disability, many people are likely to picture someone with a visibly apparent physical or mobility impairment–consider that the most widely recognizable symbol of disability depicts a wheelchair user. However, physically disabled individuals are only one facet of the highly diverse and dynamic social identity group united through the lived experience of disability.

Contemporary Concerns in the Disability Justice Movement

The Covid-19 Pandemic and the emerging climate crisis are two contemporary factors that impact the disability justice movement. The Covid-19 pandemic greatly impacted - and continues to impact - the disability community, and the climate crisis continues to disproportionately impact individuals with environmental illnesses and autoimmune diseases.

Community Voices & Reflections for Discussion

Pam Mandler, UMass Research Fellow, and Joy Jarme, Executive Assistant, share their personal stories of living with disabilities and how being a part of the disability community and making connections within it has been beneficial in many ways.

Disability Rights History

Explore some key moments in the history of the United States disability justice movement, starting with the foundations established by Brown v. Board of Education to the 504 Sit-In and the Olmstead v. L.C. Supreme Court decision. 

Resources for Continued Learning

See our list of resources for continued learning about disability history and culture, as well as on-campus resources for UMass students, staff, and faculty. Resources include books and audiobooks, educational videos, accounts to follow on social media, and more.

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