Disrupting Dis/Ability

Fall 2020: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 12:00-1:15pm 
ASU Sync

Who decides what counts as a disability?


Who determines what it is to be able, or healthy?


When we imagine disability, what do we envision?


How can we reimagine disability in ways that could reshape ableist structures?


Discover and disrupt discriminating narratives and social structures.

This Lab seeks to expand and enrich understandings of disability in our cultural imagination. We ask: How do medical, legal, academic, media, and other public institutions and their practices define disability, ability, and health (or wellness)? What are the intellectual and cultural histories of those definitions and how have they helped to construct disability as personal tragedy and a sign of ill-health?

To accomplish the Lab’s purpose, faculty and student teams will identify the historical and cultural forces that have shaped current definitions of dis/ability. Throughout this process, Lab participants will collaborate on developing their own informed targeted actions aimed at transforming definitions of dis/ability by pursuing a fundamental question: “How can we reimagine disability in ways that don’t reinforce discriminatory and harmful structures?”

Impact Outcomes

Students in Disrupting Dis/Ability had the opportunity to work with faculty from the School of Social Transformation and the School of Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies to explore key questions concerning cultural narratives of dis/ability in our world today. Students were asked to imagine projects as “disruptions” designed to intervene in structures of ableism. Student teams worked with consultants on and off campus including ASU’s ADA Compliance Coordinator regarding physical space, ASU’s IT Accessibility Coordinator regarding virtual space, community leaders from local nonprofit organizations that support people with intellectual disabilities (Detour Theater Company) and investigative journalist, author and disability advocate, Amy Silverman. Students created their own teams and dedicated their time to pursuing change through a variety of impact outcomes.

View their final impact outcomes here.

Several students also extended their work into the following semester in an interdisciplinary Beyond the Lab project: Mapping Access @ ASU. Read about it here.

Disability in the News

At the Humanities Lab, we strive to ensure our Labs are relevant and current. Here are some recent articles about Disability in today’s news!

Exploring What Disability Means Today, and Could Mean Tomorrow

Building Accessibility into America, Literally

Coronavirus has leveled the playing field for people with disabilities 

Enrollment Information

Fall 2020: Tuesdays and Thursdays 12:00-1:15pm and

*Wednesdays  12:15-1:30pm

*BDH201 and ASU Sync, Session C

Humanities Lab Disability Studies
HUL 494 and 598 DST 494
Women and Gender Studies English
WST 494 ENG 494

*Lab time is for students to work on activities and assignments, especially skill-building and collaborative Lab projects. Contact faculty about required Lab times.


Instructional Team

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Faculty: Heather Switzer

Women and Gender Studies
School of Social Transformation

Faculty: Annika Mann

School of Humanities Arts and Cultural Studies
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Librarian: Matthew Ogborn

Graduate Instruction and Project Manager
Hayden Libraries/ E-Learning and Instruction

Instructional Team