Accessibility and Disability Justice at the Summit

The opening and closing ceremony will have American Sign Language Interpreters. If you are planning to attend the Summit and would appreciate an ASL interpreter for any other times then opening or closing please contact South at 412-441-2697

The space is wheel chair accessible. There is an elevator near #9 on the map coming from the back parking lot – not the front.

There will be a CHILL space if you need some quiet time in the Small Dining Room. This is a room off the hallway to the main dining room. This space will be quiet.

In attempt to make the Summit a safer space for people with disabilities we offer the following information.

“Disability justice is a multi-issue political understanding of disability and ableism, moving away from a rights based equality model and beyond just access, to a framework that centers justice and wholeness for all disabled people and communities.” (Mia Mingus)

“Ableism is systematic, institutional devaluing of bodies and minds deemed deviant, abnormal, defective, subhuman, less than. Ableism is violence.” (Autistic Hoya)

Americans with disabilities are victims of violent crimes at nearly three times the rate of their peers without disabilities. In 2012 alone, 1.3 million nonfatal violent crimes were perpetrated against people with disabilities aged 12 or older.

Click image by Micah Bizant to read Sins Invalid article about intersections between police brutality and ablism

It’s estimated that nearly 15 percent of all calls to the police involve a person with mental illness or disability in crisis.

Tragic instances of people with disabilities victimized by the police: individuals with cerebral palsy forcibly arrested because officers thought they were drunk; a deaf man Tasered repeatedly because he couldn’t hear the police. The list is unending, and each case involves police mistaking disability for noncompliance.

Disability has a complex history with being considered noncompliant, criminal, or morally wrong, with problematic oppressive approaches such as segregation, institutionalization, eugenics, punishment and brutality, violence and exploitation by family/ caregivers/ others, social exclusion, discrimination, and many others.  There is the harmful reductive outlook where people with disabilities are considered only either pitiful or inspirational, and where one is expected to be either “amazingly” superhuman or less than human.

This is ignoring a range of abilities that vary and furthers the myth of independence, ignoring the reality of interdependence, drawing on many of the same misunderstandings, fears, and stereotypes as oppression based on race and other identities. Disability justice goes beyond disability rights and inclusion, beyond thinking about disability as some individual problem or hardship, and beyond addressing simply the medical, legal, or social models of disability.

Disability is a natural part of the human experience. About 1 in 5 people has a disability; some are born with disabilities, others acquire them through accidents, illness, or the aging process. Disabilities can be apparent, or visible, or they can be hidden, or invisible. They can be sensory, mobility, or mental health related that affects a person’s functioning.

exist is to resist
Image by Micah Bazant & A Sins Invalid Disability Justice means resisting together from solitary cells to open air prisons. To Exist is to Resist.

Tips on Interacting with People with Disabilities

  • Ask before you help
  • Be sensitive about physical contact
  • Think before you speak*
  • Don’t make assumptions
  • Respond graciously to requests
  • Speak directly to a person with a disability, not to his companion or sign language interpreter.
  • Speak to the person clearly but don’t assume you should speak slower, louder, or some other way that might be condescending.
  • Consider the terms you use. Many people and groups prefer “person first language” as a standard while some prefer “identity first language.” Don’t use outdated, patronizing, or negative language. Examples: Person with a disability. Autistic person. Person with an intellectual disability. Person who uses a wheelchair. – You can ask someone what they prefer you use if you’re unsure. Instead of: crippled, handicapped, wheelchair-bound, differently-abled, retarded, dumb, and so on.
  • Do you ever think about where the word Lame comes from to describe something bad?


Sources: Mia Mingus , Autistic Hoya, Sins Invalid,  – National Black Disability Coalition,, and articles: “Police Are Failing America’s Disabled” and “How Misunderstanding Disability Leads to Police Violence

Image of: Leroy Moore, of Sins Invalid and Krip Hop Nation text: “All bodies are unique and essential. All bodies are whole. All bodies have strengths and needs that must be met. We are powerful, not despite the complexities of our bodies, but because of them. We move together, with no body left behind. This is disability justice.”

Thanks to Lauren Stuparitz for compiling this Disability Justice information.