How People Who Use AAC Can Benefit from Thinking of Their Struggle in a Disability Justice Framework

Disability Justice is a philosophy developed by people of color with disabilities that tries to envision a society that can incorporate and accept everyone for who we are with all our intersectional identities and tries to build a space in community where all our bodies are deemed sacred and whole. Disability activist such as Patty Bearne and Leroy Moore, with whom I have worked closely in their performance-based collective, Sins Invalid, developed the disability justice framework that I will use for this presentation. A disability justice analysis leads us to work together with our differing physical, cognitive, and psychological abilities to build the community we want. We have to accept our full identities in regards to our race, sex, sexuality, gender identity, religious status as well as differing abilities and demand a space for our full selves.

For people who have complex communication needs we often get marginalized even in the already marginal disability community and are still struggling to find a collective voice as a community. Yes, AAC technology has liberated our voices and given us the freedom to express ourselves and engage with those around us. However, it is yet to be determined how, in the mainstream, most of us will be accepted as professionals, experts in our field, disabled sports athletes, potential love interests, marriage material, good parents, and reliable leaders. To envision a world where people can be and are expected to be, these things are where a disability justice analysis can be applied. This presentation will begin to conceive of what we must do to make this vision real.