12. Gender & Disability Justice

“Where does our inability lie? Are our bodies like stalled cars? Or does disability live in the social and physical environment, in the stairs that have no accompanying ramp?”

Eli Clare, “Freaks and Queers “

Six disabled people of color smile and pose in front of a concrete wall. Five people stand in the back, with a Black woman in the centre holding up a chalkboard sign reading “disabled and here.” A South Asian person in a wheelchair sits in front. Photo credit: Disabled And Here.


Why don’t disabled people want to be inspirations for able-bodied people?  What does it mean to talk about being disabled as opposed to a person with a disability? Is disability a medical issue or a social issue? How does disability relate to gender, race, sexuality, and class inequality? What is the difference between a human rights approach to disability and a social justice approach? These are some of the questions we will consider in this module on gender and disability justice.

Learning Objectives

By the end of this module, you should be able to:

  • Explain the difference between using ‘person first’ language and using the term ‘disabled’ 
  • Identify key moments in disability activism in Canada 
  • Differentiate between distinct approaches to the study of disability, including: the eugenics model, the medical model, the charity model, the rights model, the social model, the radical model, and a “crip theory” approach 
  • Define disability justice 


This module is co-authored by Daisy Raphael and Sabrina Mussieux. Sabrina Mussiuex has a Master’s of Arts from the University of Alberta’s Gender and Social Justice program (Women’s and Gender Studies). Sabrina is currently completing a Master’s of Science in Human Ecology.

Moving Forward




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