Disability 101

Disability Justice

Disability justice abandons the previous models which tend to focus on a binary and instead move to a broader approach focused more systemically. “Disability Justice was built because the Disability Rights Movement and Disability Studies do not inherently centralize the needs and experiences of folks experiencing intersectional oppression, such as disabled people of color, immigrants with disabilities, queers with disabilities, trans and gender non-conforming people with disabilities, people with disabilities who are houseless, people with disabilities who are incarcerated, people with disabilities who have had their ancestral lands stolen, amongst others.” (Source)

“Disability justice recognizes the intersecting legacies of white supremacy, colonial capitalism, gendered oppression and ableism in understanding how people’s bodies and minds are labeled ‘deviant’, ‘unproductive’, ‘disposable’ and/or ‘invalid’.” (Source)

A disability justice framework understands that: 

  • “All bodies are unique and essential. 
  • All bodies have strengths and needs that must be met. 
  • We are powerful, not despite the complexities of our bodies, but because of them. 
  • All bodies are confined by ability, race, gender, sexuality, class, nation state, religion, and more, and we cannot separate them.” (Source)

If you are new or newer to disability justice, I recommend you reread the list above slowly and reflect on what each of these above bullet points means, and how it might be a shift for how you have considered things in the past. Is this how I view my body? Is this how I view others’ bodies? Do I resonate with the statements? Do any of the statements align with what I believe? What might be different if I thought this way about myself and others?


“INTERSECTIONALITY “We do not live single issue lives” –Audre Lorde. Ableism, coupled with white supremacy, supported by capitalism, underscored by heteropatriarchy, has rendered the vast majority of the world “invalid.”

LEADERSHIP OF THOSE MOST IMPACTED “We are led by those who most know these systems.” –Aurora Levins Morales

ANTI-CAPITALIST POLITIC In an economy that sees land and humans as components of profit, we are anti-capitalist by the nature of having non-conforming body/minds.

COMMITMENT TO CROSS-MOVEMENT ORGANIZING Shifting how social justice movements understand disability and contextualize ableism, disability justice lends itself to politics of alliance.

RECOGNIZING WHOLENESS People have inherent worth outside of commodity relations and capitalist notions of productivity. Each person is full of history and life experience.

SUSTAINABILITY We pace ourselves, individually and collectively, to be sustained long term. Our embodied experiences guide us toward ongoing justice and liberation.

COMMITMENT TO CROSS-DISABILITY SOLIDARITY We honor the insights and participation of all of our community members, knowing that isolation undermines collective liberation.

INTERDEPENDENCE We meet each others’ needs as we build toward liberation, knowing that state solutions inevitably extend into further control over lives.

COLLECTIVE ACCESS As brown, black and queer-bodied disabled people we bring flexibility and creative nuance that go beyond able-bodied/minded normativity, to be in community with each other.

COLLECTIVE LIBERATION No body or mind can be left behind – only mobbing together can we accomplish the revolution we require.” (Source)

If there is something in the 10 principles that you don’t agree with or don’t understand yet, I encourage you to focus on the broader vision in claiming the power in our bodies because of our differences. 

I highly recommend checking out the resources on Project LETS for more articles, blog posts, videos, and other resources about disability justice: https://projectlets.org/disability-justice 

Check out this blog post “Changing the framework: disability justice. How our communities can move beyond access to wholeness”: https://leavingevidence.wordpress.com/2011/02/12/changing-the-framework-disability-justice/ 

Note: disability justice is sometimes shortened to DJ