This guide provides information and resources for the study of disabilities and disability justice. It includes links to academic, advocacy, and statistical resources. UNM faculty, staff, and students as well as New Mexico residents will also find links to institutional, state, and local resources.
Disability Studies is an interdisciplinary field that examines historical and current understandings of disability, including physical, cognitive, and mental disabilities. Scholars may apply various lenses in their study of disability, such as arts and culture, education, humanities, law, medicine, politics, technology, and sociology. Disability Studies is sometimes abbreviated “DS.”
Critical Disability Studies focuses on the lived experiences of disabled people, both experiences affording unique knowledge and experiences of bias and stigmatization. Critical Disability Studies recognizes “disability” and “ability” as constructions determined by environmental and social factors as well as physical, cognitive, and mental variation. The field is not only interdisciplinary but also intersectional: it presumes disability is an identity that intersects with other identities, like gender, race, sexuality, and class. Along with disability activists, Critical Disability Studies scholars are committed to access, inclusion, and justice for people with disabilities. The field is not only interdisciplinary but also intersectional -- that is, it presumes disability is an identity that intersects with other identities (like gender, race, sexuality, and class) in the contexts of a given society's power structures.
Guidelines differ on the use person-first and disability-first language (consult Writing About Disability from the NCCSD Clearinghouse). An increasingly common choice, as used above, is to alternate between the two forms of language. The Museum of Disability History includes a useful glossary.
Because Disability Studies (and Critical Disabilities Studies) is an interdisciplinary field, it is especially useful to combine two or more search terms. Please note that this field is also evolving, so search terms may change. Consequently, some search results, especially historical and older resources, may use outdated and even offensive language to describe disability.
Here are some search terms to get you started on your research, courtesy of Kat Nelson, Librarian at University of Minnesota Libraries: