March 2024

Where do disability rights and disability justice intersect, and where are the voices of people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities in these movements today? In the new issue of Impact, the Institute on Community Integration’s flagship publication, authors from around the disability community put these questions into today’s context.

Also with this issue, Impact unveils a new podcast called Impact, The Conversation, available here or wherever you get your podcasts. Janet Stewart, Impact managing editor, hosts the show with issue authors and editors, extending the conversation around critical topics in disability.

“Disability advocacy … requires eternal vigilance if we are to move from civil rights achievements in policy to social justice and community belonging in everyday life,” Allan Bergman, a longtime leader in the disability services community, writes in the issue. His article recalls major milestones in the Disability Rights Movement.

Disability justice, as defined by authors in the issue, brings equity to the conversation. Beyond hard-fought legislation and court mandates, disability justice centers the most marginalized.

“We’re moving from disability rights to disability justice, which is more intersectional,” writes Nikki Villavicencio, who works at Advocating Change Together and is also a city council member in Maplewood, Minnesota. She served as an issue editor for the new Impact issue. “It’s exciting to see not only the advocates flourish in disability justice, but we also see more side-by-side connections in the community with non-disabled people, too.”

In another article, disability activist Alice Wong calls on both the Disability Rights and Disability Justice Movements to better include people with IDD.

“People with intellectual and developmental disabilities have been excluded and sidelined by so many disability rights organizations and movements,” Wong says in her article. “[They] should be embraced.”

Voices from people with disabilities themselves include T.J. Gordon, Jr., an autistic, Black man in Chicago who writes about creating a multimedia campaign to empower people to embrace their own disability identity. Writer Mary Ayetey of Minnesota, featured on the cover, contributes poems about disability justice that she wrote with Cow Tipping Press . Curtis Harris shares his story of growing up with violence and bullying, and his independent life today as an activist.

The issue also features a roundtable discussion among direct support professionals, self-advocates, service providers, union officials and others on the role of unionization in the direct support workforce.

“Direct support professionals have made the critical outcomes of the Disability Rights and Justice Movements possible,” said Jerry Smith, ICI’s marketing and communications director, who convened the discussion and served as an issue editor. “We wanted to ask a diverse group of stakeholders whether unions can help lift DSP wages and other benefits so that they can better support people with disabilities to live the lives envisioned by these movements.”