Dedicated to advancing knowledge by, about, and for people with disabilities.

About the UW Disability Studies Initiative

The UW Disability Studies Initiative is a transdisciplinary program dedicated to advancing knowledge by, about, and for people with disabilities. Disability studies explores models and theories that examine social, political, cultural, and economic factors that define disability and help determine personal and collective responses to difference.

Disability studies scholars at UW concentrate on the culture, experiences, history, and contributions of people with disabilities across time and geography. Drawing upon the humanities, arts, social sciences, medicine, policy, and practice, we seek to better understand how disabilities are experienced in our world. UW Disability Studies embraces difference and diversity as strengths and considers disability in interaction with gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, and socio-economic status.

UW Disability Studies directly embodies the Wisconsin Idea by actively encouraging participation by disabled students and faculty and by partnering with disability communities across the state to transform public understandings of disability. UW Disability Studies is committed to physical and intellectual access and the principles of universal design.

News and upcoming events:

  • Elizabeth Bearden wins IAS fellowship

    DSI member and Professor of English Elizabeth B. Bearden was awarded a fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) for the 2022-23 academic year. The position allows for uninterrupted curiosity-driven research among a community …

  • Centering Resistance: Imaginings of a New Feminist Future

    Co-Convened by UW System Women’s and Gender Studies Consortium and UW System Gender and Women’s Studies Librarian Fully Virtual Event This year’s theme rests on an urgent line of inquiry: What has the pandemic revealed …

  • Alice Wong in Conversation with Dr. Sami Schalk

    Alice Wong (she/her) is a disabled activist, writer, media maker, and consultant. She is the founder and director of the Disability Visibility Project, an online community dedicated to creating, sharing, and amplifying disability media and …

  • Dr. Kim Nielsen

    Historian and Disability Studies scholar Kim Nielsen is Professor of Disability Studies at the University of Toledo where she teaches courses on disability history, activism, gender, eugenics, and law.  Nielsen is author of the widely …

  • More events