Sep 2011

Why Is Disability Missing From the Discourse on Diversity? By Lennard J. Davis

by Lennard J. Davis

The Chronicle

It has been more than 20 years since the Americans With Disabilities Act took effect, but while the law has changed some things in higher education, it hasn’t changed the way academic culture regards people with disabilities. While our current interest in diversity is laudable, colleges rarely think of disability when they tout diversity. College brochures and Web sites depict people of various races and ethnicities, but how often do they include, say, blind people or those with Parkinson’s disease? Or a deaf couple talking to each other in a library, or a group of wheelchair users gathered in the quad? When disability does appear, it is generally cloistered on the pages devoted to accommodations and services.

It’s not that disability is simply excluded from visual and narrative representations of diversity in college materials; it is rarely even integrated into courses devoted to diversity. Anthologies in all fields now include theoretical perspectives devoted to race, gender, and sometimes social class, but disability is almost never included. Indeed, in my field, literary theory and cultural studies, The Norton Anthology of Theory & Criticism had only one essay on disability in its thousands of pages, and that was removed in the second edition. (Full disclosure: I wrote the essay.)
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Presidential Appointment: Karen McCulloh, RN, BSN



THE WHITE HOUSE Office of the Press Secretary FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE September 21, 2011
President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts

Karen J. McCulloh, Appointee for Member, Committee for Purchase from People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled Karen J. McCulloh consults as a Diversity and Inclusion Specialist with businesses and nonprofit organizations to educate on the inclusion of people with disabilities into the labor force.  Ms. McCulloh was the founding Executive Director of disabilityworks, a project of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, from 2005 until 2010.  Ms. McCulloh was appointed by the Secretary of Labor to sit on the Job Corps Advisory Committee from 2006 until 2008, and she served as Chairperson of the Subcommittee on Disability.  In 2003, Ms. McCulloh co-founded the National Organization of Nurses with Disabilities, served as President from 2003 to 2005, and is now serving as the Immediate Past President.  Ms. McCulloh also served as the Chairwoman of the Board of Directors for Access Living of Metropolitan Chicago.  She was in charge of the agency review for the Committee for Purchase from People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled for the Obama-Biden Transition Team in 2008.  Ms. McCulloh received an RN from the Grant Hospital School of Nursing in Columbus, Ohio and a B.S. from Loyola University of Chicago. karen_mcculloh

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