October Reading List

Monthly Reading List – October Reading List

What’s your October Reading List? Here’s ours.

Every first week of the month, Disabled Spectator publishes a reading list of our favorite disability and accessibility related articles. We look for insightful, interesting, controversial, heartbreaking, well-written, or enjoyable articles that provoke thought, conversation, and emotion. This post looks at articles we read in October. Accordingly, here is our October Reading List.

Protecting the rights of people with disabilities is not optional, by Lennard Davis and David Perry, The Washington Post

Lennard Davis and David Perry contrast the bipartisan support of the ADA and the damage that a partisan bill like the ADA Education and Reform Act can have. They discuss how little accessibility or legal recourse there was for people with disabilities prior to the ADA. They then show how the ADA Education and Reform Act will setback the accomplishments of the ADA. Like the title of the article says, protecting the rights of people with disabilities is not optional.


The bill, misleadingly called the ADA Education and Reform Act, is about neither education nor reform. Instead, it would make the ADA much harder to enforce, taking away the major motivation that businesses had for complying: fear of being sued.

But there is a major flaw to this logic: No one should arrive at a hotel, find out it is inaccessible and then have to wait months to be allowed inside. And when it comes to frivolous lawsuits, state bar associations are already well equipped to impose sanctions on unscrupulous lawyers through provisions included in the ADA.

Before the ADA, much of the country was inaccessible to people with disabilities. But having added a host of accommodations, including curb cuts, ramps, closed captioning, accessible public transportation and American Sign Language interpreters, we have made unbelievable progress, and it’s thanks to leaders from across the political spectrum.

How to Get Disability Accommodations at School, by S.E. Smith, Teen Vogue

This Teen Vogue article by S.E. Smith discusses how to ensure you have the proper disability accommodations before starting college. Smith discusses types of accommodations available in relation to different disabilities, what to ask for, and who to approach. The legal aspect of disability accommodations is also examined and comprehensive tips are provided to ensure students with disabilities understand their rights and recourse to take action if needed.


Before school started, she requested a meeting and asked about the accommodations available, in addition to making some requests. “Make sure that you know what you need before the semester starts, because it’s easier to get in advance than have it changed,” she explains.

You should also ask about which services are available. Even if you’ve lived with disability for a while, there might be accommodations you never thought to ask for that are tremendously helpful. Explicitly asking disability services staff and teachers may open up new opportunities for you.

To facilitate accommodations requests, Powell recommends putting them in writing, the start of a paper trail that will document the steps you took and what you need.

The Visible and Invisible Challenges Workers With Disabilities Face, by Judith Ohikuare, Refinery29

This article examines the findings of a report about people with disabilities in the workforce conducted by the Center for Talent Innovation (CTI). The report discusses how we are likely to see more workers with disabilities because of a broader federal definition of disabilities and more students with disabilities graduating because of the ADA. The report also shows that many workers decline to disclose their disability, and face discrimination at work.


“Thanks in part to support and accessibility of schools mandated by the ADA, more people with disabilities are completing college than ever before — an effect that is strongest among Millennials who completed their education post-ADA,” the study’s authors write.

The study’s authors attribute low disclosure rates to workers not realizing they can be considered to have a disability under the new federal guidelines. And, more intentionally, many employees with disabilities “are counseled by family, friends, even employment attorneys, to avoid disclosing their disabilities—for fear of discrimination and other negative repercussions.”

Thirty-four percent of CTI’s survey respondents with disabilities said they have experienced discrimination or bias while working at their current companies.

Finding Myself on the Page, by Ona Gritz, The New York Times – The Opinion Section

In this opinion piece, Ona Gritz discusses her journey to finding identity in disability. A writer, Gritz talks about discovering disability identity through paper and pen. Her profession plays an integral role in discovering her identity as she uses the equivalence of a narrative to understand her disability. Vice versa, her disability identity helps expand the depth of her writing. This is a very interesting read.


Then one day, more than 20 years later, an image came to me of my younger self poised beneath that tree and I realized what was missing from those early drafts. My cerebral palsy.

For a long time, I felt unsure not only of how to talk about my disability but even how to think about it. Its meaning was slippery and ever-changing.

“Would I have to be disabled on every page?” I asked a friend who is also a literary agent when she suggested I write a memoir on mothering with a disability.

Disabled in Grad School: When You Tell Me a Disability Story, by Alyssa, Inside Higher Ed

Alyssa is a doctoral student with a disability. In this piece, she discusses three specific stories of disability that have been relayed to her by professors. All three are examples of professors explaining disability accommodations to Alyssa. All three are examples of how disability is misunderstood, why accessibility can be poorly applied, and the damage that’s done when a none disabled person in power decides what accommodations are appropriate.


But other times, I don’t; I’m a disabled student. I may hear your tale and make a mental note not to take a class with you. I don’t want to be your next story, and I don’t want to deal with you saying that you “believe in me” while denying me the accommodation I need in order to live up to that belief.

I think about how much pressure a professor can exert on their students without explicitly requiring anything specific, and I worry for those students.

Unfortunately, professors who see how fast she finishes tests sometimes conclude that she can’t really need her other accommodations. I don’t know how they reach that conclusion – do they think that if a person is disabled in one way, they can’t be good at anything else? Do they think that if a person has one above-average skill, they can’t be disabled or require accommodation for anything else? 

Thanks for reading our October Reading List. Keep an eye out for our list next month. You can read last month’s reading list here.

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Josh Appel

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