This post was written by Eliza Chandler, a sessional instructor with the School of Disability Studies.
To me, disability, or ‘crip’, communities are spaces where disabled and mad folks and our allies come together to work through disability rights issues (such as accessibility issues and policy reform), social justice issues, build and sustain activists movements, theorize new meanings of disability and madness, create art that represents the vitality of disability and mad-identity, and learn from and enjoy one another. I also think that crip communities are bound by the desire to be with disability and to celebrate the dynamism of crip and mad lives. In all of these ways, crip community provides a powerful counter-narrative to the tired, normative rhetoric that our lives are not worth living.
Ryerson’s School of Disability Studies is a mighty and creative display of crip community at its best: The School’s many events showcase strong disability and mad activist communities both here in Toronto and internationally; the School’s exhibit Out From Under has unprecedentedly historicized and publicized disability and mad activism in Canada; the one-of-a-kind AODA certificate program is fundamental to advancing disability rights in Canada; all of it’s classes encourage and deliver new ways of living with and valuing disabled and mad lives (while fighting against the ableist and sanist structures we live in); and the School is absolutely integral to supporting the bourgeoning disability arts scene in Toronto and putting disability arts on the map through events like Arts with Attitude and it’s support of organizations and projects such as Tangled Art + Disability and Project Revision. This, and so much more.
On top of all of this, as a disabled person who is consistently on the hunt for crip community, I have found a home here. At the School I have built lasting friendships and scholarly and activist relationships with collogues and students at the School, I continue to find satiating events and critical research projects, and I meet new, creative, smart, radical, and dedicated students each year who assure me that crip communities will continue to grow.