Viewing the work of disability services differently

Core Values

These core values lay a foundation for guiding the work of  disability resource professionals in designing services, policies and programs.  They keep us focused on the ultimate goal of creating campuses that value disability and embody equity of opportunity.

Human variation is natural and vital in the development of dynamic communities.

“Diversity enriches the educational experience. We learn from those whose experiences, beliefs, and perspectives are different from our own, and these lessons can be taught best in a richly diverse intellectual and social environment.

It promotes personal growth--and a healthy society. Diversity challenges stereotyped preconceptions; it encourages critical thinking; and it helps students learn to communicate effectively with people of varied backgrounds.

It strengthens communities and the workplace. Education within a diverse setting prepares students to become good citizens in an increasingly complex, pluralistic society; it fosters mutual respect and teamwork; and it helps build communities whose members are judged by the quality of their character and their contributions.

It enhances America's economic competitiveness. Sustaining the nation's prosperity in the 21st century will require us to make effective use of the talents and abilities of all our citizens, in work settings that bring together individuals from diverse backgrounds and cultures.”

American Council on Education. 2001. On the importance of diversity in higher education. Retrieved on September 9, 2011 from (Link no longer active.)
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Disability is a social/political category that includes people with a variety of conditions who are bound together by common experiences.

“We have come out not with brown woolen lap robes over our withered legs or dark glasses over our pale eyes but in shorts and sandals, in overalls and business suits, dressed for play and work straight forward, unmasked, and unapologetic.' We are, as Crosby, Stills, and Nash told their Woodstock audience, letting our "freak flag fly." And we are not only the high-toned wheelchair athletes seen in recent television ads but the gangly, pudgy, lumpy, and bumpy of us, declaring that shame will no longer structure our wardrobe or our discourse. We are everywhere these days, wheeling and loping down the street, tapping our canes, sucking on our breathing tubes, following our guide dogs, puffing and sipping on the mouth sticks that propel our motorized chairs. We may drool, hear voices, speak in staccato syllables, wear catheters to collect our urine, or live with a compromised immune system. We are all bound together, not by this list of our collective symptoms but by the social and political circumstances that have forged us as a group. We have found one another and found a voice to express not despair at our fate but outrage at our social positioning. Our symptoms, though sometimes painful, scary, unpleasant, or difficult to manage, are nevertheless part of the daily life. They exist and have existed in all communities throughout time. What we rail against are the strategies used to deprive us of rights, opportunity, and the pursuit of pleasure.”

Simi Linton. 1998. Claiming Disability: Knowledge and Identity. NY: New York University Press.

“Black bodies, white bodies; male bodies, female bodies; young bodies, old bodies; beautiful bodies, broken bodies - right bodies and wrong bodies. Historically, our bodies have framed our futures and explained our past; our bodies write our stories. But it is not our bodies per se which write the story; rather it is the way in which we, as a society, construct our bodies which shapes our history and our future.

Bodily difference has for centuries determined social structures by defining certain bodies as the norm, and defining those which fall outside the norm as 'Other'; with the degree of 'Otherness' being defined by the degree of variation from the norm. In doing this, we have created an artificial 'paradigm of humanity' into which some of us fit neatly, and others fit very badly. Life outside the paradigm of humanity is likely to be characterized by isolation and abuse.

The story we have recorded of the lives of people with disability is a story of life lived on the margins. For people with disability, their history is largely a history of silence. The lives of people with disability have not only been constructed as 'Other', but frequently as 'the Other' of 'the Other'. People with disability are marginalized even by those who are themselves marginalized.”

Clapton, J. & Fitzgerald, J. 2011. The history of disability: A history of 'otherness'. Retrieved on September 9, 2011 from

“Suddenly what I had always known, deep down, was confirmed. It wasn’t my body that was responsible for all my difficulties; it was external factors, the barriers constructed by the society in which I live”.

Crow, L. 1996. Including all of our lives: Renewing the social model of disability. In C. Barnes & G. Mercer (Eds.). Exploring the divide (pp. 55 – 72). Leeds: The Disability Press.
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Inclusion and full participation are a matter of social justice.

“We cannot and should not root the origin of our {disability} history solidly in the 20th century since there has been an eternal existence of chronic disease and disability and also personal, social, and political attempts both to deal with and to deny them. Without this sense of history, there is no societal or even personal appreciation of the depth of the fear of disability. Without appreciation of the depth of the fear of disability, there is a naiveté that ‘wrongs’ about disability can be ‘righted’ by single actions like the ADA. Without recognition of its presence through both time and space we will seek the elimination and prevention of disability as our primary goals rather than its integration, acceptance, and ultimately, its appreciation.”

Zola, Kenneth. 1993. In the active voice: A reflective review essay on three books. Policy Studies Journal, 21: 802–805.

“We live in a society that attaches privilege to being white and male and heterosexual and nondisabled regardless of social class. If I don’t see how that makes me part of the problem of privilege, I won’t see myself as part of the solution. And if people in privileged groups don’t include themselves in the solution, the default is to leave it to blacks and women and Asians, Latinos/as, Native Americans, lesbians, gay men, people with disabilities, and the lower and working classes to do it on their own.”

Johnson, A. 2006. Privilege, power, and difference. New York: McGraw-Hill.
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Design is powerful in terms of its ability to promote or limit full participation and inclusion.

“Our buildings, neighborhoods, and cities are cultural artifacts shaped by human intentions and intervention, symbolically declaring to society the place held by each of its members. The wealthy live in penthouse apartments; the poor live in housing projects. Each group knows on which side of the track it belongs.”

Weisman, L. 1994. Discrimination By Design. Chicago: University of Illinois Press.

“Design is a moral issue.”

Jef Raskin. 2000. The human interface. New directions for designing interactive systems. Addison-Wesley Professional.

“…many US colleges and universities adhere to a different framework, the social welfare model of DS. The social welfare model regards people with disabilities as the objects of philanthropy, charity and good will. Social welfare models stress ‘needs’ rather than rights. Consequently, the social welfare model tends to take care of people, but it treats people with disabilities as less than equal and with paternalism.”

“Disability can be understood as something natural, and disability identity can open doors. People with disabilities choose how they feel about disability, and disability support professionals should do all we can to develop disability identity in its most positive context.”

Marks, J. 2008. Post-secondary education disability services in the united states. Retrieved September 13, 2011 from
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Creating usable, equitable, sustainable, and inclusive environments is a shared responsibility.

“When the focus…is on the individual…there is a strong tendency to see the locus of the problem as residing solely in the person rather than in the organization or social structure.”

Sue, D. & Sue D. 2003. Counseling the culturally diverse: Theory and practice. New Jersey: Wiley and Sons.

“Of course social justice has always been, and must always be, a critical idea, one that challenges us to reform our institutions and practices in the name of greater fairness.”

Miller, David. 2001. Principles of social justice. Boston: Harvard University Press.

“Although in some cases, provider’s will lack the support, tools and/or resources to provide other than individual accommodations, it is important to understand that in many situations complying with required minimums promotes the segregation, limited participation and unequal access of student with disabilities and therefore, maintains a discriminatory environment which runs against the spirit of what legislation, such as the ADA, intended.”

Guzman, A. 2008. Reframing our perspective of disabilities. ALERT. NC: AHEAD.
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