Disability History, Culture, and Community: Learn about disability identity

Claudia Gordon works at her desk.

Disability is part of diversity, some of the infinite threads woven through the fabric of our world. Every person’s experience of disability is unique and belongs only to them, but for so many of the more than 1 billion people with disabilities around the globe, disability is not considered something that needs to be “fixed,” “cured,” or “eliminated,” but rather it’s celebrated as an identity–part of what makes a person who they are. As you build up your knowledge base about disability, it’s key to remember that disability can intersect with any and all other identities. It is one facet of a whole individual.

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Your Learning Journey

To begin your learning journey about disability, we encourage you to first familiarize yourself with what the term itself means and some of the frameworks through which society perceives it. Part of this includes becoming more aware of how we think and talk about disability, as well as ensuring the language we use is affirming of disability and disabled people. Then, take some time to look back on landmark laws and powerful movement work that has shaped and continues to shape disability rights. 

It’s also necessary to learn about discrimination toward people with disabilities, known as ableism, and its impact at both individual and systemic levels. The resources in this section will offer insight on how to actively support efforts to dismantle society’s long-held ableist ideas. And as you work your way through this topic, we encourage you to consider how your work can uplift and amplify the disability community and their work both within and beyond philanthropy.