Disability Justice

Disability justice (and disability itself) has the potential to fundamentally transform everything we think about quality of life, purpose, work, relationships, belonging.

Disability Visibility: First Person Stories from the 21st Century

Because I would argue that “disability justice” is simply another term for love. And so is “solidarity,” “access,” and “access intimacy.” I would argue that our work for liberation is simply a practice of love—one of the deepest and most profound there is. And the creation of this space is an act of love.

When I say “liberatory access,” I mean access that is more than simply having a ramp or being scent free or providing captions. Access for the sake of access or inclusion is not necessarily liberatory, but access done in the service of love, justice, connection and community _is _liberatory and has the power to transform. I want us to think beyond just knowing the “right things to say” and be able to truly engage. I want us to not only make sure things are accessible, but also work to transform the conditions that created that inaccessibility in the first place. To not only meet the immediate needs of access—whether that is access to spaces, or access to education and resources, or access to dignity and agency—but also work to make sure that the inaccessibility doesn’t happen again.

“Disability Justice” is Simply Another Term for Love | Leaving Evidence

Neurodiversity and Disability Justice, taken together, are indeed celebrations of who we are and how we exist in the world. They are also movements rooted in lived experience, which ask us to understand and engage with the many ways we relate to our bodies and brains, inside our own minds, and in social context.

Autistic Hoya — A blog by Lydia X. Z. Brown: The neurodiversity movements needs its shoes off, and fists up.


  • 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 moving together can we accomplish the revolution we require.
10 Principles of Disability Justice — Sins Invalid

Disability justice exists every place two disabled people meet—at a kitchen table, on heating pads in bed talking to our loves. Our power and our vulnerability are often in our revolutionary obscurity and the horizontal ways of organizing that can come from it. Anyone can be a part of disability justice if they organize from their own spoons, own bodies and minds, and own communities.

Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha

“Disability justice” is a term coined by the Black, brown, queer, and trans members of the original Disability Justice Collective, founded in 2005 by Patty Berne, Mia Mingus, Stacey Milbern, Leroy Moore, Eli Clare, and Sebastian Margaret. Disabled queer and trans Black, Asian, and white activists and artists, they dreamed up a movement-building framework that would center the lives, needs, and organizing strategies of disabled queer and trans and/or Black and brown people marginalized from mainstream disability rights organizing’ white-dominated, single-issue focus.

Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice

It’s been 13 years since the original Disability Justice Collective — made up of activists Patty Berne, Leroy Moore, Mia Mingus, Sebastian Margaret and Eli Clare, a group of queer Black and Asian, queer and trans white disabled people — came together to coin the term “disability justice” and lay the groundwork for a movement-building framework of intersectional, revolutionary disability politics. Sick of single-issue, casually racist white-dominated disability rights movements on the one hand, and of non-disabled Black and Brown movements forever “forgetting” about disability on the other, they decided to create some kind of luscious, juicy movement that would be like what environmental justice was to environmental rights, but in a disability context. This work has been carried on by organizations like Sins Invalid and the Harriet Tubman Collective, and many individuals and unnamed collectives doing visible and also highly invisibilized work.

To Survive the Trumpocalypse, We Need Wild Disability Justice Dreams

This work is about shifting how we understand access, moving away from the individualized and independence-framed notions of access put forth by the disability rights movement and, instead, working to view access as collective and interdependent.

With disability justice, we want to move away from the “myth of independence,” that everyone can and should be able to do everything on their own. I am not fighting for independence, as much of the disability rights movement rallies behind. I am fighting for an interdependence that embraces need and tells the truth: no one does it on their own and the myth of independence is just that, a myth.

Changing the Framework: Disability Justice | Leaving Evidence

Disability justice, when it’s really happening, is too messy and wild to really fit into traditional movement and nonprofit-industrial complex structures.

You want to know how you’ll know if you’re doing disability justice? You’ll know you’re doing it because people will show up late, someone will vomit, someone will have a panic attack and nothing will happen on time because the ramp is broken on the supposedly “accessible” building. You won’t meet your “benchmarks,” on time or ever.

Disability justice means people with disabilities taking leadership positions, and everything that means when we show up as our whole selves, including thrown-out backs or broken wheelchairs making every day a work-from-home day, having a panic attack at the rally, or needing to empty an ostomy bag in the middle of a meeting. It means things moving slowly and being led by people even the most social-justice-minded abled folks stare at. And what holds many social justice abled folks back from really going there is that our work may look like what many abled people have been taught to think of as “failure.”

It’s so easy to look at a list of disability justice principles and nod your head. But the real deal is messy and beautiful — as messy and beautiful and real as our sick, disabled, Deaf and crazy body/minds. Disability justice, when it’s really happening, is too messy and wild to really fit into traditional movement and nonprofit-industrial complex structures, because our bodies and minds have always been too wild to fit in those structures. And that is on purpose: Nonprofits, created in the ’60s to manage dissent, have much overlap with “charities” — the network of institutions designed to institutionalize and control disabled people. Changing work to really embody disability justice means throwing out most ways people have learned how to organize.

The brilliance of disability comes from this innovation and commitment to not leaving each other behind. It includes the power of a march moving as slow as the slowest members, who are at the front. It includes the power of a lockdown of scooter users blocking police headquarters with huge pieces of adaptive equipment. It takes the shape of movements that know how to bring each other food and medicine and see that care work as not a sideline to “the real work” of activism, but the real work of activism, all while building cultures where we don’t shame each other for being sick or having needs. It means knowing how to organize while sick, from the bed and from the access van lineup. All of these are crucial disabled skills. I am for us loving and being for ourselves as disabled people — particularly as sick and disabled Black and Brown people first — but I also want abled people to learn that we know shit that can and will save your life. Because it saves ours, daily.

To Survive the Trumpocalypse, We Need Wild Disability Justice Dreams

Access intimacy is one of the main ways that I have been building interdependence in my life. I have been pushing myself to grow it and not just subsist on the little I have been able to find, most significantly with my partner, as is the case for many disabled folks. Engaging in building any kind of interdependence will always be a risk, for everyone involved; and the risk will always be greater for those who are more oppressed and have less access to privilege. In an ableist world where disabled people are understood as disposable, it can be especially hard to build interdependence with people you need in order to survive, but who don’t need you in order to survive. In an ableist context, interdependence will always get framed as “burden,” and disability will always get framed as “inferior.” To actively work to build something that is thought of as undeniably undesirable and to try and reframe it to others as liberatory, is no small task.

Especially as disabled people, we know what it means to live interdependent lives and it does not always feel revolutionary or enjoyable.

Access Intimacy, Interdependence and Disability Justice | Leaving Evidence

To me, one quality of disability justice culture is that it is simultaneously beautiful and practical. Poetry and dance are as valuable as a blog post about access hacks—because they’re equally important and interdependent. This book is an example of that both/and.

Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice

Our website is full of the practical and poetic. We bricolage our disability justice dreams.

The making of disability justice lives in the realm of thinking and talking and knowledge making, in art and sky. But it also lives in how to rent an accessible porta potty for an accessible-except-the-bathroom event space, how to mix coconut oil and aloe to make a fragrance-free hair lotion that works for curly and kinky BIPOC hair, how to learn to care for each other when everyone is sick, tired, crazy, and brilliant. And neither is possible without the other.

Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice

Disability justice dreams are what got me here, and I’m going to keep banking on them.

Stacey Milbern

Further reading,