DISABILITY JUSTICE RESOURCES
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The term disability justice was coined out of conversations between disabled queer women of color activists in 2005, including Patty Berne, Mia Mingus, and Stacy Milbern, seeking to challenge radical and progressive movements to more fully address ableism.
Disability justice recognizes the intersecting legacies of white supremacy, colonial capitalism, gendered oppression and ableism in understanding how people's’ bodies and minds are labelled ‘deviant’, ‘unproductive’, ‘disposable’ and/or ‘invalid’. The resources listed below are offered as educational tools for arts organizations, arts activists, and educators to bring to their communities.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law in 1990. The ADA is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public. The purpose of the law is to make sure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.
Access Auditions for Performers who are d/Deaf and Disabled by Aaron Sawyer and Terri Lynne Hudson, Howlround
Actors With Disabilities Are Ready, Willing, and Able to Take More Roles by Alexis Soloski, New York Times
Can You Tell The Difference Between Accommodation and Accessibility? by Katie Rose Guest Pryal
Creative Access: Accommodations for Professional Performers with Disabilities by Talleri Adkins McRae, Howlround
Disability in American Theatre by Christine Bruno, Howlround
Forced Intimacy: An Ableist Norm by Mia Mingus
How our communities can move beyond access to wholeness by Mia Mingus
Identity-First Language by Lydia X. Z. Brown
In Search of Authenticity: Including Disability in Theatre by Andrea Kovich, Howlround
Making Your Website Accessible is Vital to Your Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Efforts by Vijay Mathew, Howlround
Six Ways Your Social Justice Activist Might Be Ableist by Carolyn Zaikowski
Resources on Disability Etiquette, Accessible Spaces & Demos, Events, Disability History, Disability Justice & Culture PDF by the Washington Peace Center
Disability and Theatre: A Practical Manual for Inclusion in the Arts by Stephanie Barton Farcas.
Disability Aesthetics by Tobin Siebers.
Ableism is the Bane of My Motherfuckin’ Existence with Patty Berne and Stacey Milbern
I’m not your inspiration, thank you very much TEDxSydney talk by Stella Young
My Body Doesn’t Oppress Me, Society Does with Patty Berne and Stacey Milbern
GUIDES & Tool Kits
A Guide to Theatre Access from Arts Council England
Disability & Access Tool Kit by Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ)
Accessible Arts - Australia
Accessible Arts is the peak arts and disability organization across New South Wales providing leadership in arts + disability through information, advocacy and the facilitation of excellence in arts practice.
A nonprofit that promotes full diversity in theatre, film, and television. They focus on authentic dialogue about race, culture, and disability that embraces the complexity of underlying social and historical issues. Formerly called the Nontraditional Casting Project, they have a disability advocate on staff.
Arts & Disability Ireland - Dublin, Ireland
We promote engagement with the arts at all levels – as professional artists, audience members and arts workers – for people of all ages with disabilities of all kinds. We work towards arts programs and arts venues becoming fully accessible experiences for all audiences. We advocate for inclusive policy and practice which provides real access to all aspects of the arts for people with disabilities, and for everyone.
DASH Arts - Shropshire, UK
DASH is a Disability led visual arts organization. We commission exciting new work by disabled visual artists; we run workshops; mentoring for artists and training.
Promoting increased access to the arts for disabled artists and audiences around the globe.
The mission of the NADC is to promote the full inclusion of audiences and artists with disabilities into all facets of the arts community.
Sing For Your Seniors - New York, NY
Proudly focusing our service to low-income senior communities, LGBTQ+ elders, veterans and those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia, SFYS is a six-time recipient of the Quality of Life grant from Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and a member of the Alzheimer's Foundation of America.
Apothetae - New York, NY
Named after a pit in Ancient Greece where weak babies were said to be discarded, this New York–based theater company creates new plays that make the disabled experience visible. Inspired by the lack of “collective history” in the physically and mentally disabled community, Artistic Director Gregg Mozgala leads the charge in affecting change through theatrical performance.
AXIS Dance Company - Oakland, CA
The heart of AXIS is the commissioning, creation, and performance of contemporary dance that is developed through the collaboration of dancers with and without physical disabilities.
Deaf West - Los Angeles, CA
Founded in Los Angeles in 1991, Deaf West Theatre engages artists and audiences in unparalleled theater experiences inspired by Deaf culture and the expressive power of sign language. Committed to innovation, collaboration, and training, Deaf West Theatre is the artistic bridge between the deaf and hearing worlds.
Detour Company Theatre - Phoenix, AZ
Based out of Phoenix, Arizona, Detour brings artists with developmental and certain physical disabilities together to make theater under the direction of a nurturing community of coaches. The company has a huge impact on the local community and beyond, performing shows like “Mary Poppins” to packed houses of fans.
Identity Theater - New York, NY
This NYC–based group of “differently abled” artists creates works that inspire discussion and exploration of the whole human experience. Its mission is to create more performance opportunities for professional actors with disabilities, both by putting a variety of actors on its own stage and by opening the minds of theatergoers at large.
InterAct Theater - Minneapolis, MN
Based out of the University of Minnesota, the InterAct Center is a “radically inclusive” not-for-profit company that gives voice to the disabled population and expresses the arts as essential to humanity. The center focuses on visual and performing arts, and creates full-time opportunities for artists with disabilities. InterAct’s theatrical component is ensemble–based, and produces fully staged new works along with smaller projects that are based on community collaboration.
Mixed Blood Theatre - Minneapolis, MN
For nearly 20 years, Mixed Blood has produced mainstage and touring productions about disability, with artists, audiences and writers with disabilities. The company has hosted two festivals of disability-related plays and led a national initiative to infuse disability programming into theaters across the country. A Disability Advisory Council guides Mixed Blood’s efforts.
Professional theatre employing only professionals with disabilities to create fully accessible, live, world-class theatre and storytelling; changing social policy and the nation's narrative about what people with disabilities can do; and providing a guiding model in audience accessibility for the arts and culture sector.
National Theatre of the Deaf - Hartford, CT
This Tony Award-winning theater company has been touring the country for almost 50 years, and gives both deaf and hearing artists the chance to work side by side on accessible productions. Funded by the Department of Education during its original conception, the NTD performs full productions in American Sign Language while also incorporating spoken lines. The arts organization has brought ASL to thousands of audiences throughout the country—and has even made appearances on Sesame Street.
Phamaly Theatre Company - Denver, CO
Denver’s award-winning Phamaly Theatre Company exclusively features actors with all nature of disability - cognitive, emotional, intellectual, physical, and neurodiverse. Come be unique with us!
Phame - Portland, OR
PHAME is a fine and performing arts academy serving adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. We offer three ten-week terms of arts-based classes each year, as well as many performance opportunities. Taught by talented arts education professionals, our classes include visual art, acting, choir, dance, musical theatre and many more.
NICU’s Spoon Theatre Co. - New York, NY
We are New York City’s original all-inclusive theater group; offering a home for everyone regardless of color, ability, ethnicity, age, or gender. We’ve been this way since Day One and are committed to this mission as a leader in NYC. We support every artist— whether they be sight-impaired, hard of hearing, rainbow-hued, differently-enabled, or otherwise empowered. Many other theaters have been inspired by our philosophy and have joined with us in our support of diversity.
That Uppity Theater Company - St. Louis, MO
Known for innovative pieces that confront a variety of hot topics (gay rights, gender issues, and racial justice to name a few), this Saint Louis–based theater company began the “DisAbility Project” over 20 years ago to create more inclusion for artists with disabilities. The project now tours to various communities, sharing a message of openness and understanding with its audience.
Theater Breaking Through Barriers - New York, NY
Originally known as “Theater by the Blind” before altering its mission in 2008 to include actors with a wide range of disabilities, this Off-Broadway theater aims to show “the exuberance and independence as well as the challenges of lives lived with disability.” TBTB earns critical acclaim for its inclusiveness and its contributions to the New York theater scene.