Hero banner reading Disability History Week. #disabilityResist. The disability community will not be broken! Image of a cracked glass over a concrete texture. Logo for Instagram and Twitter.
Through the history of our disability community, art provides an outlet to express what is often suppressed. Creativity is a driving force in gaining and maintaining our independence, and it’s evident in disability history and culture. From the way we express ourselves, advocate for ourselves and organize for our community, to the way we develop and use assistive technology… The ability to make our own choices gives us the freedom to live the lives we choose.
This year, Youth Organizing (YO!) Disabled & Proud celebrates artists and creators with disabilities who have, and are currently cultivating, their own communities.
Mexican artist Frida Kahlo is our muse for the 2018 Disability History Week poster. As a woman with multiple disabilities, she expressed herself through surrealistic paintings and has become an internationally-recognized icon.
Other featured artists on the poster include: Jesse Cuellar, Micah Fowler, Annie Hanauer, Marlee Matlin, Matt Maxey, Jillian Mercado, and Naomi Ortiz.
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2018 List of Blogs and Resources
Disabled Artists & Creatives
Cultivating Community Through the Works of Disabled Creators
- Frida Kahlo Learn more Frida Kahlo was born on the 6th July 1907, though she later changed her birth year to 1910, tying herself to the start of the Mexican Revolution. Born and brought up in Mexico City, over the course of her short life and trailblazing career, Kahlo came to signify many things to many people and has continued to have a huge impact on those who discover her.
- Jesse Cuellar Learn more Jesse “Sinz” Cuellar is graffiti artist from St. Louis, Missouri, who learned to paint with his mouth after a spinal cord injury left him paralyzed. His accessible artistry led to becoming a spokesperson for assistive technology companies; Jesse has provided demonstrations using his power wheelchair all over the country.
- Micah Fowler Learn more Micah Fowler is an actor and public figure, currently starring on ABC's new fall comedy, Speechless. Unlike his character, Micah can speak and uses his voice to be a constant advocate for others with disabilities; he is a proud ambassador for the Cerebral Palsy Foundation. Micah recognizes the huge responsibility of representing the disability community and hopes to make them proud.
- Annie Hanauer Learn more Annie Hanauer is an American dancer, performer and teacher with a disability; she lives between the UK and France. She is a graduate of Fine Arts in Dance University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. As member of Candoco Dance Company, Annie taught and played all over the world and at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Beijing and the closing ceremony of Paralympic Games in London.
- Marlee Matlin Learn more Marlee Matlin received worldwide critical acclaim for her debut in “Children of a Lesser God,” and also became the youngest and (only deaf recipient to date) of the Best Actress Oscar. She is also a bestselling author and disability advocate. Marlee serves as the national spokeswoman for the largest provider of TV closed captioning, and has spoken on behalf of CC in countries such as Australia, England, France, and Italy. She also serves on the boards of a number of charitable organizations.
- Matt Maxey Learn more Matthew Maxey, founder of DEAFinitely Dope, hails from Atlanta, GA. As a hard of hearing individual, Maxey seeks to unite the hearing and Deaf community through music and sign language, breaking barriers in the process. His personal journey to find where he fits in best as a hard of hearing individual led to creating an outlet where others experiencing the same struggle to find their identity could find peace, unity, and enjoyment through DEAFinitelyDope.
- Jillian Mercado Learn more Jillian Mercado is a fashion model represented by IMG/WME Worldwide. As a wheelchair user (due to muscular dystrophy), she is one of the few professional models who has a physical disability in the fashion industry. A prominent figure in the new wave of models challenging beauty ideals in the fashion industry, Mercado is keen to fight the lack of representation of people with disabilities in the fashion industry and their enduring stigma. Jillian is also a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology.
- Naomi Ortiz Learn more Naomi Ortiz is a writer, poet, facilitator and visual artist whose work focuses on self-care for activists, disability justice and living in multiple worlds (intersectionality). She is a highly acclaimed speaker and facilitator, conducting workshops on developing self-care tools and strategies that work in real life. Her book, Sustaining Spirit: Self-Care for Social Justice invites readers to explore the relationships between mind, body, spirit, heart and place. She invites readers to integrate self-care to survive and thrive.
- Krip Hop Nation Learn more Krip-Hop Nation, founded by Leroy Moore, is on a mission to educate the music, media industries and general public about the talents, history, rights and marketability of Hip-Hop artists and other musicians with disabilities.
- Sins Invalid Learn more Sins Invalid is a performance project that incubates and celebrates artists with disabilities, centralizing artists of color and queer and gender-variant artists as communities who have been historically marginalized.
- Axis Dance Learn more Founded in 1987, AXIS is the nation’s most acclaimed ensembles of disabled and non-disabled performers based in 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. Our artistic vision to collaborate with high profile choreographers and cutting edge innovative dance makers of our time was an excellent strategy that has resulted in artistically stunning and significant dance works. More than any other company in the United States, AXIS has been at the forefront of the field, building a bridge between contemporary dance, integrated dance, and disability culture.
- Chef Christine Ha Learn more Christine Ha is the first-ever blind contestant and season 3 winner of the competitive amateur cooking television show “MasterChef” with Gordon Ramsay. She defeated over 30,000 home cooks across America to secure the coveted MasterChef title, a $250,000 cash prize, and a cookbook deal.
- Kay Ulanday Barrett Learn more Kay Ulanday Barrett is a poet, performer, and educator, navigating life as a disabled Filipino American transgender queer in the U.S. with struggle, resistance, and laughter. Kay’s bold work continues to excite and challenge audiences. A seasoned speaker, Kay has facilitated workshops, presented keynotes, and contributed to panels with various social justice communities and has been featured on colleges and stages globally.
The Not so Distant Past
Activists and Advocates from 2000 to 2017 Who are Changing the Disability Community for the Better!
- Latinx Disability Coalition View Page A coalition created for Disabled Latinx. It brings together diverse perspectives on being part of these two specific communities. It also provides insight and resources in both English and Spanish.
- DiversAbility View Page An organization that increases the visibility of disabled people. Created and ran by people with disabilities from various backgrounds. It strives to create a space for all disabilities to foster a sense of community with one another.
- Stacy Milbern on Medicaid Cuts View Page A queer Korean disabled activists shares their experiences on why access to support services is about more than just living in the community.
- Women Disability Activists Front and Center in Resistance View Page Heather Watkins: in the modern age activism takes on new look. The author of this article explains why new age activism is just as valid as taking to the streets.
- Black Disabled Woman Syllabus: A Compilation View Page Vilissa Thompson has lovingly compiled a compilation that explores the intersections of being black, disabled, and a woman. While her whole site is definitely worth checking out this is a great place to start.
Participate in Disability History Week 2018
- Sample Disability History Week social media content.
- Order a 2018 Disability History Week poster.
- Youth organizer's toolbox.
- Resources for Educators.
- Register your school here and receive a poster from last year.
- Links to online Disability History Videos.