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Access and Crisis: Disability and the Collapse of Everything

Decorative: UMD Disability Summit logo

The twinned crises of a global pandemic and a re-awakening to systemic racial injustice have reignited previously illuminated disparities for the disability community, compounded by a violently exclusionary presidential administration. These crises simultaneously highlight the marginalization of and provide new opportunities for disabled people. Now, it is a time of absurd, but very real, paradoxes. The “disposability” of certain bodies over others has elucidated deep ableism that undercuts both American, and global culture. While this has been met with resistance as well as widespread institutional change, just how many members of society are willing to recognize disability as part of social justice remains an unanswered question. Accommodations that were thought impossible for people with disabilities have now been made widely available. A swath of American employees can now work from home, yet the return to some sort of normalcy is also a threat to the health of many.

Crises of this magnitude will inevitably reshape society: How will they impact the lives of people with disabilities? How do we contribute to their well-being in the future?

The UMD Disability Summit was established in 2016 as a forum for professionals, educators, academics, service providers, allies and advocates focusing on disability issues to dialogue and collaborate across types of disability and institutions. The goal of the summit is to bring focus to and promote discussion of key current events and research impacting disability in society.

Dr. Ashley Shew and Dr. Angel Love Miles will be joining us as keynote speakers for this event. They will share their expertise, insight and experience as thought leaders and champions of intersectional disability justice.

In the wake of the 30th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act many are questioning how to continue to carry this energy forward. How can we foreground access in crisis? There are many skills that we need to carry into the ‘new normal’ which must center intersectional applications of racial and disability justice.

We encourage you to bring your vision of inclusive and accessible resources, skills and actions that can propel the disability justice movement forward.

  • We encourage submissions discussing:
  • Disability activism and justice (past, present, and future)
  • Assistive technologies
  • Accessible labor practices
  • Identity politics
  • Disability as a community and identity
  • Current policy challenges
  • Healthcare
  • Crisis management
  • Race, gender, class, and other intersectional approaches
  • The role of allyship in the community
  • Collective Grief
  • Parenting
  • Mutual Aid Networks
  • Care Webs
  • Teaching and Learning (Education)

And anything else you imagine that can help us contribute to building a more accessible future together.

We are accepting proposals for:

  • Lecture-style Presentation (15 minutes) – Lecture-style presentations can range from in-depth scientific research to academic scholarly practices. Lectures include a Q&A portion.
  • Workshop (30 – 60 minutes) – Session focused on skill building or formal professional workforce training.
  • Panel Presentation (60 minutes) – Three or more topic area presenters offer their perspective on a proposed disability studies topic. Each panel member will have the opportunity to provide an overview of their work followed by moderated questions and questions from the audience. You are welcome to focus on the “collapse” of a specialized area such as medicine, health, the universe, please include this in your response.
  • Lightning Talk (3 – 7 minutes) A brief and engaging presentation that highlights key themes and ideas about a specific topic that can spur discussion. Examples are TED Talks, 3 Minute-Thesis “3MT” or the Pecha Kucha (chit-chat). Lightning Talks may be combined to create a panel if the talks overlap in theme or focus.
  • Pre-recorded Performances (no limit) – Pre-recorded presentations can be shared with the summit attendees in an asynchronous manner. While these will not be part of the formal three day program, they will be highlighted in the program, shared directly with presenters and given the opportunity to become a part of the Accessibility Studies archive at the University of Maryland.

Submit Proposals to with subject title “Disability Summit 2021 Submission” and 200 word abstract, including presenters names and preferred pronouns, due by FEBRUARY 11th, 2021.

We will also accept word documents or accessible PDFs for those who use screen readers. Should that not fulfill your access needs, feel free to contact us directly and we will come up with a modified approach to ensure that your submission is considered for the 2021 Summit.

For more information about the summit, please check:

#DisabilityUMD #2021DisabilitySummit

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