About the Theme and Objectives

Disability and Justice: The Evolution and the Revolution
This year, we celebrate disability and the movement toward justice.  People with disabilities have struggled in the name of justice.  But little is known about that, as history is often told by the professionals: including doctors, educators, and reformers. Disability history reveals a hidden past where disabled people were doing, advocating, and organizing. Disability is being re-written into history (Daniel J. Wilson). Each panel during the day explores ways in which disabled people were/are re-writing history. This online educational module asks everyone to think about how we find, share, and engage our greater communities in this important history. Please share with your friends, neighbors, and co-workers.


If you have any questions about the content, please contact iod@temple.edu.

Audience and Accessibility

Reading Level - This content is appropriate for anyone eighth grade and above.

Recorded Materials - With permission from the speakers, the live webinar was recorded.

Accessibility - The recorded materials included CART live transcription and American Sign Language interpretation throughout.

Course Completion Time (~3 Hours)

While there are approximately five hours of content presented on this site, we recommend allowing students to choose from the materials so that total completion time would be less than three hours. Specifically, we recommend:  

  • Students watch/read “Disability History: From Wrongs to Rights” and then choose an additional recorded topic.
  • Students should respond to two-three reflection questions.
  • It should be acknowledged that students may need time to digest potentially emotional content.

Mini-Course Objectives

  • Understand some of the external factors, such as ableism, that shape disability history and help propel disability movements.
  • Examine how social movements learn from each other, specifically which movements influence the disability movement and how does the disability movement influence others.
  • Reflect on history in order to make informed suggestions for change and progress in professional fields.

Know Before You Go: Content Note

The recorded panel discussions/transcripts include difficult and disturbing language and events, including acts of violence, in the history of Disabled Peoples. Some may find the conversations and language disturbing. Please give yourself space and comfort during these times.

Recorded Content

We recommend that classes use Disability History from Wrongs to Rights and one other recording/transcript of their choice.  

  • Recommended: Introduction and Context: Disability History from Wrongs to Rights
  • Student Panel
  • Naming Disability: How Communication Changes Over Time
  • Advocating for Disability: Intersecting Movements
  • Finding Disability: Art and Objects

List of Speakers

Student Panel

Naming Disability: How Communication Changes Over Time

Advocating for Disability: Intersecting Movements

Finding Disability: Art and Objects

Your Turn: Your Reflections

We recommend students answer at least two of the following questions:

  • How do you feel after using this educational module? Were you able to see yourself or someone you know in the panel of speakers?
  • Is this your first introduction to disability history? If not, how/where did you first hear about disability history? What questions do you have about disability history now that you watched/read this panel conversation?
  • Why do you think the theme has these words: Justice, Evolution, Revolution?
  • The panelists speak directly or indirectly about “ableism” (see the glossary below). How does or doesn’t ableism apply today? Is it still relevant?
  • Share your recommendation: history including artifacts, collections, records, and recollections include what is now considered derogatory language. What is your recommendation on how to handle that in classroom and professional settings?
  • Create an argument for the positive effect of different social justice movements working together. How can you be part of creating these positive alliances?


  • Ableism is a set of beliefs or practices that devalue and discriminate against people with physical, intellectual, or psychiatric disabilities and often rests on the assumption that disabled people need to be "fixed" in one form or the other. (Center for Disability Rights, 2020)
  • Colonialism - "Understanding of disability is rooted in colonialism... bodies and land were transformed into commodities assigned value on a global market according to their ability to produce profit...colonialism ...values bodies as instruments of labour." (Lilian Bankiyan-Monfard) https://study.soas.ac.uk/against-accessibility-decolonise-ableism/
  • Crip - The current use of the word "crip" is a reclamation of a word that was previously used as derogatory and used for self-empowerment.
  • Disability Justice is an understanding that able-bodied supremacy has been formed in relation to other systems of domination and exploitation ... A single-issue civil rights framework is not enough to explain the full extent of ableism and how it operates in society. We can only truly understand ableism by tracing its connections to heteropatriarchy, white supremacy, colonialism, and capitalism... A disability justice framework understands that: All bodies are unique and essential; All bodies have strengths and needs that must be met; We are powerful, not despite the complexities of our bodies, but because of them; All bodies are confined by ability, race, gender, sexuality, class, nation state, religion, and more, and we cannot separate them. (What is Disability Justice? — Sins Invalid)
  • Identity-first language places the disability-related word first in a phrase. People who prefer identity-first language for themselves often argue that their disability is an important part of who they are, or that they wouldn't be the same person without their disability. For some people, identity-first language is about a shared community, culture, and identity. Identity-first language is also about thinking about disability as a type of diversity instead of something to be ashamed of. (Austistic Self Advocacy Network, Identity-First Language)
  • Inclusion means open to full participation by everyone rather than a specific few. Independent Living Movement
  • Person-first language is used to speak appropriately and respectfully about an individual with a disability. Person-first language emphasizes the individual first, not the disability. For example, when referring to a person with a disability, refer to the person first by using phrases such as: "a person who ...", "a person with ..." or, "person who has..." (CDC, 2020)
  • Social justice movement - for example the "disability rights movement" or the "disability justice movement." A series of organized activities and events where many people work together to achieve the same goal to achieve something good in society.

Additional Resources

We've curated the following resources which we recommend for use in classrooms. We acknowledge that links are often updated and may "break." If the link is not working, please use your search engine to retrieve the appropriate page.  

Primary Source Materials for Use in the Classroom or Research

Relevant Readings

Featured Movements for Students to Research

Technology Requirements

In order to use the resources listed for this online educational module, users need to have access to an Internet connection and a computer or a smart phone with audio/video capabilities. No special software is required.

For more information, please contact