Thirty years ago on July 26, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into a law. Previously thought of as a population that was “out of sight, out of mind,” the law acknowledged a change in perception towards those with disabilities in 1990. But the struggle for equality had begun decades before, and continues on today. Thousands pushed the disability rights movement forward, which brought awareness to the injustices, exclusion, and discrimination that people with disabilities have faced throughout history.
In this staff curated online collection, we revisit the history of the disabilities rights movement, entrench ourselves in memoirs and essays, and look at the influence of representations in media and literature. Selections unpack the power of language when writing and educating about disability—and how that language has evolved. While the ADA marked a significant step forward, those with disabilities continue to face discrimination and alienation today.
Sixty-one million adults in the United States live with a disability, according to the most recent CDC data—that’s about 1 in 4 adults. This collection was made to elevate and celebrate the stories of those with disabilities, and highlight resources that can help create more inclusive environments for everyone.
Most hours of the day, I’m thinking about science stories. Writing for a science news website and radio show, I often mull over the narrative, sources, research, and language I use in a story. All the elements in the writing process are significant in a reader’s experience, and I’ve found that diversity and inclusion in storytelling helps me to connect with readers. I’m fortunate to have colleagues who also embrace inclusive practices. We curate guides of photo databases that depict diverse and underrepresented people, update style guides with inclusive language, provide transcriptions for radio interviews, add alt text on images—and this is all just the beginning.
But in media, some people are still repeatedly left out. The narrative of those with disabilities is one that is often marginalized. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. I am incredibly honored to help curate this month’s Staff Picks that highlights memoirs, pedagogy, fiction, and more about the community. I learned so much in the process, and I hope it encourages others to be more inclusive of everyone.
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