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Skin, Tooth, and Bone – The Basis of Movement is Our People: A Disability Justice Primer

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Reproductive Health Matters
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Skin, Tooth, and Bone – The Basis of Movement is
Our People: A Disability Justice Primer
Sins Invalid
To cite this article: Sins Invalid (2017) Skin, Tooth, and Bone – The Basis of Movement is
Our People: A Disability Justice Primer, Reproductive Health Matters, 25:50, 149-150, DOI:
To link to this article:
© 2017 The Author(s). Published by Informa
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Published online: 05 Jul 2017.
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Skin, Tooth, and Bone The Basis of Movement is Our People:
A Disability Justice Primer
Sins Invalid
To download any of Sins Invalid publications, visit To purchase printed copies, go to or contact
Skin, Tooth, and Bone by Sins Invalid (2016) is a
snappy, accessible, yet challenging 70-page long
booklet by multiple authors, all part of the Sins
Invalid performance arts collective, based in
San Francisco, USA. This Disability Justice Primer
lays out the fundamental principles of Disability
Justice, as well as the steps that could be taken
to embody work towards a truly inclusive and
just world. Its practicality and relevance are appar-
ent and appreciated. The concept of Disability Jus-
tice, articulated and explored in the text, is a
written expression of the principles and future
that the performance art of Sins Invalid incubates:
a celebration of disability, and of disabled people
with a focus on the leadership of disabled people
of color and of queer, and gender non-conforming
disabled people(p. 13). Skin, Tooth and Bone
embodies the values that it is espousing. It pushes
forward the disability movement beyond a single-
issue discourse centred on rights to promote an
intersectional movement led by those most
impacted by ableism and historical systemic
oppression. It aspires towards sustainable, mixed
ability organising that is accessible to people
regardless of ability, colour, sexuality, gender-con-
formity, health or migration status. The text takes
the readers through the three components of
Bones (the textual and critical framework critical
to the work of Sins Invalid and pursuit of Disability
Justice), Teeth which represents words and
thoughts from disability justice activists, including
concrete suggestions for more accessible
organizing(p. 5), and Skin which represents
images that the authors seek out and wrap
[themselves] in(p. 5).
The content is laid out clearly. Practical sugges-
tions are couched in explanations of the authors
personal and contextual motivations for articulat-
ing what is envisioned as Disability Justice as well
as what steps can already be taken towards dis-
mantling the ableist, heteronormative, patriarchal,
colonial, and oppressive context of contemporary
society (or societies). As a visibly disabled woman,
of a linguistic minority, my partner a black man
with Senegalese citizenship, I am confronted by
the shortcomings of a Disability Rights Movement
that is single-issue identity-based. For although
many pieces of my identity mark me as amongst
the most privileged and powerful in contemporary
society: a post-graduate university education,
European and Canadian citizenships, of European
descent, Christian and heterosexual, working inter-
nationally, I am confronted with the shifting
dynamics of power, privilege, marginalisation
and oppression on a daily basis due to my own
identity and that of my partner. The ways that
different forms of privilege are leveraged at differ-
ent times and for various purposes (p. 11) are also
apparent to me given my mobility across countries
and contexts. As such, I appreciated the formu-
lation of this hybridity and dynamism of privilege
and oppression by Sins Invalid. There is much in
the text that speaks truth to realities beyond the
USA, and beyond North America; however, I read
the text with some questions as to the ultimate
extent of relevance of the Disability Justice model
and possibly what more might be problematised
or communicated in order to increase its traction
even farther.
Overall, I found that much of what Sins Invalid
is asserting in this text echoed the questions and
discomforts that I have faced since starting to
work alongside disability movements and disability
service organisations internationally in 2005. What
caught my attention initially in the text, particu-
larly bearing an international lens in mind, was
the assertion that the current Disability Movement
centers people who can achieve rights and access
149© 2017 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.
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is properly cited.
through a legal or rights-based framework(p. 11)
which the authors contend they know to be not
possible for many disabled people, or appropriate
for all situations(p. 11). It is not a statement
against disability rights, but rather a call not to
stop at disability rights: that we must look at
what comes before and after rights. In disability
organisational work promoted and funded by
international agencies, there are several disability
rights mobilisation and education initiatives. The
entry into force in international law of the Conven-
tion on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was
greeted with great celebrations and so it should!
However, this text summons us to also question
when rights are not enough.This clearly res-
onates with what I sometimes heard and felt
when working in contexts where disabled and
non-disabled people were living in systems where
rights were abstracts, where mechanisms of access
to rights were physically, nancially and structu-
rally inaccessible. Community members expressed
the need for means of sustaining their livelihood,
caring for their family members, having clean
food and water! Of course, these are or could/
should be considered fundamental rights.
Being aware of ones rights remains important,
but Sins Invalids call for a justice framework that
recognises that rights might speak tocertain dis-
abled people more than others, in my interpret-
ation, re-enforces a so called hierarchy of
disability which we see in various disability rights
organisations. Equally worrying, I have witnessed
a politicisation of the disability movement in
many contexts which, at rst glance, may
appear a positive sign of progress towards accep-
tance of disability rights but I have found it has a
sinister side, as disability movements begin to
reproduce the partisanship, elitism, colonialism,
heteropatriarchy and capitalism of the overall pol-
itical system of any given country. As such I nd
that Sins Invalids call to Intersectionality and
Anti-Capitalist Politic as 2 of the 10 principles of
Disability Justice is crucial, timely, and relevant
beyond the USA and North America.
The sections of the text offering access sugges-
tions for public events and organising are those
sections where I feel that Sins Invalids North
American context shines through, perhaps to the
detriment of its relevance internationally. I
acknowledge and appreciate that they have articu-
lated that accessibility is an evolving process and
that exibility, adaptability and good listening
are key. However, in low- and middle-income
countries I wonder if some of the suggestions
may seem so far removed from peoples context
and resource scope that all efforts to be accessible
may be abandoned, thinking that they will never
manage to be fully accessible anyway. I also won-
der how accessible the text is to communities
where heteropatriarchy is taken entirely for
granted and, in some contexts, is even legislated.
I am left wondering who will put down this text
immediately as it offends their religious/cultural
sensitivities. I do believe that everything must be
questioned and that we cannot shy away from dif-
cult questions. However, a key part of inclusivity
is somehow reaching out to people who do not
espouse our views. In this text Sins Invalid brings
up a host of relevant, timely and potentially trans-
formative principles to disability organising. In its
next text, I look forward to hearing more about
how they propose bringing other people along
for the ride.The concept of Mixed Ability Organis-
ing is explored this time, and I am keen to hear
about how they believe they could engage with
voices and realities from the Global South.
By: Myroslava Tataryn, Ottawa, Canada
M Tataryn. Reproductive Health Matters 2017;25(50):149150
... Rather, ableism is the misrepresentation of disability; like false representations of gender and race are rooted in racism and sexism. Part of diversity, inclusion, and equity, Berne (2017) observed that "one cannot look at the history of U.S., slavery, the stealing of indigenous lands, and U.S. imperialism without seeing the way that white supremacy leverages ableism to create a subjugated 'other' that is deemed less worthy/abled/smart/capable" (p. 149). ...
The purpose of this article is to present a case study example of a graduate student-designed, introductory series of discussions integrated within graduate Kinesiology student training, with the broad goal of building an academic environment that acknowledges bias and supports anti-oppressive conversation. Previous research on social justice training in PE and Kinesiology is briefly summarized and examples of social justice behaviors consistent with the Transtheoretical Model are discussed.
Blind and low vision people use visual description services (VDS) to gain visual interpretation and build access in a world that privileges sight. Despite their many benefits, VDS have many harmful privacy and security implications. As a result, researchers are suggesting, exploring, and building obfuscation systems that detect and obscure private or sensitive materials. However, as obfuscation depends largely on sight to interpret outcomes, it is unknown whether Blind and low vision people would find such approaches useful. Our work aims to center the perspectives and opinions of Blind and low vision people on the potential of obfuscation to address privacy concerns in VDS. By reporting on interviews with 20 Blind and low vision people who use VDS, our findings reveal that popular research trends in obfuscation fail to capture the needs of Blind and low vision people. While obfuscation might be helpful in gaining more control, tensions around obfuscation misrecognition and confirmation are prominent. We turn to the framework of interdependence to unpack and understand obfuscation in VDS, enabling us to complicate privacy concerns, uncover the labor of Blind and low vision people, and emphasize the importance of safeguards. We provide design directions to move the trajectory of obfuscation research forward.
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This Policy Discourse Analysis (PDA) explores 19 state legislative documents focused on the teaching of disability history in K-12 schools. Framed through critical perspectives on constructions of disability and race, alongside discourse theory, we iteratively analyzed these legislative documents to understand (a) how disability and disability history are constructed (particularly in relation to whiteness); and (b) the stated purpose of the legislation and who is meant to benefit materially as a result of the laws. We find the legislation upholds dominant notions of whiteness and ability as part of school curriculum, while simultaneously constructing disability history as in the past and disability justice as already achieved, centering the learning and awareness of white, nondisabled students. We offer discussion and implications for research and practice surrounding policy implementation of teaching disability history.
Social work internationally is currently subject to debate. Some call for the abolition of social work, detailing legacies of harm, inadequate practices and theoretical limitations. Central to abolitionist thought is the tradition of community work to build alternative futures in the present, an area currently receiving less attention. This article adopts an auto-ethnographic method, drawing on the authors’ experiences of social work in the UK – in childhood and as a professional career, respectively – to consider the limitations of social work responses to childhood harm, alongside existing community harm-reduction practices. Four themes are identified that capture the limitations of social work intervention, as well as acts of community care and resistance. These are: the extent of engagement with context and community knowledge; resources for caring; legacies of harm; and the role of social work in relation to community harm-reduction work. Implications for research methods and social work practice are discussed.
Disabled people are highly susceptible to climate change impacts and disasters, yet they often remain sidelined or largely invisible. Policy makers, humanitarian agencies, and governments need to address the climate-related vulnerabilities that disabled people encounter during acute events and in the course of more creeping forms of climate change. As deaf researchers, we call for integrating disability justice into climate and disaster preparedness policies and practices worldwide. A disability justice approach can embrace the strengths that disabled people bring to disaster planning and climate mitigation and advocacy efforts. In this article we present case studies from different global regions to illustrate how disability is overlooked in responding to climate-related health impacts and disaster planning. We also draw particular attention to mutual aid networks led by disabled people in adapting to climate-related health impacts. We then suggest questions to help policy makers and practitioners integrate disability justice into their work. Above all, disabled people, organizations, and service providers should take ownership over the process of developing policies and actions to better prevent, prepare for, and respond to climate disasters.
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This research details the findings from three interviews with QTBIPOC educators in Ontario. Using qualitative interviews and art-based responses, teachers in this study theorized about a queer ethic of care while offering their best practices to illustrate how they move from theory to pedagogy when working with QTBIPOC youth. This research asked the following questions: How do QTBIPOC educators understand and practice a queer ethic of care? Two findings emerged from this study: (1) a queer ethic of care is nuanced and expansive, disruptive and transgressive and an individualized practice that takes place within a care web and (2) care as it exists in schools right now, is inherently white, colonial and violent and has forced QTBIPOC educators to imagine new forms of care practices. These disruptive practices include creating (1) authentic, fluid, mutually vulnerable relationships with students (2) explicitly anticolonial, antiracist moments in their teaching and interactions with students and (3) affirmation and recognition as moments of ii healing. Collectively, these disruptive and transgressive practices create space for mutual healing for both queer and trans racialized students and teachers and paves the way for queer futurity and thriving. The findings from this study indicate a few things: educators must continually reimagine and disrupt their knowledge of care and care practices that are built upon white, colonial, cisheteronormative assumptions; educators must engage in anticolonial and antiracist care practices that are trans-gressive to the understandings of care in schools; teachers must learn how to create care webs in community with their students in ways that are vulnerable, authentic and fluid; a queer ethic of care is possible to implement at the grassroots, individual level first, but must move towards systemic practices in order to be sustainable and effective for QTBIPOC students in the long term; and a queer ethic of care offers a way for QTBIPOC teachers and students to feel recognition, affirmation and mutually heal by imagining new futures through thriving, joyful care.
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Purpose Leveraging autoethnography and conceptual syntheses, the author stake the claim that supporting people to empower themselves in the naming and description of their lived realities beyond assumed incompleteness constitutes a resistant form of critical praxis the author name as epistemic (de)centering. Through these engagements of varying proximity with the other, meaning those Lives-Hopes-Dreams often outside researchers' personal and professional standpoints, the author aims to argue that critical, reflexive praxes where historically marginalized people, including those living/surviving/thriving with impairments-disabilities, can be afforded place, space, time and respect to visibilize their experiences. Design/methodology/approach In this paper, the author dreams of radical possibilities afforded by epistemic disobedience to value those Body-Mind-Spirits often elided among social justice work. Interrogating nuances among pieces in a recently published special issue named as “Disability Justice,” the author rearticulates a reality of possibility where the rhetoric that sustains invisibilizations of disabled people via racial-capitalist-ableist-coloniality is disrupted to explicitly position these identities as valuable to inform how to transform society in more just ways. Findings Analyses from this work further conversations on disabled subjectivities, post-oppositional logics of centers-margins, and resistant knowledge projects to illuminate how to approach the questions of who gets to decide when justice is achieved, and how abled Body-Mind-Spirits can meet their commitments to justice, especially among those that work in social justice circles. Originality/value Infusing across this work the voices of multiply marginalized, and disabled, folks provides a cognitive-systemic architecture where research moves from “what if” as abstraction to engage with “how to” center disability justice in education (DJE). In doing so, this research pushes our approaches to social justice praxis, in education and beyond, to think about our individual and collective proximities to self and other, and more specifically disabled Lives-Hopes-Dreams.
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Background Addressing issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) has become central in implementing inclusive and socially responsible rehabilitation education and clinical practice. Yet, the constructs of disability and d/Deaf identity and culture, as well as ableism and allyship are often overlooked. Or, these concepts are approached using outdated philosophical perspectives that pathologize disability and fail to prioritize the lived experiences, expertise, intersectionality, and self-identified needs of people with disabilities. A Critical Disability Studies (CDS) framework may provide a background for better understanding and responding to these issues through allyship.PurposeThis study employed a CDS framework to understand the lived experiences of ableism and allyship from faculty, staff, and students on University of Washington (UW) campuses who identify as d/Deaf, disabled/with a disability, or as having a chronic health condition.Methods During 2020–2021, we conducted in-depth, semi-structured interviews and focus groups with 22 diverse undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and staff with disabilities, one third who also identified as people of color. Encounters were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim, and coded using constant comparison until themes emerged.ResultsFour major themes that emerged from the data are: (1) Ever-present ableism in healthcare, (2) Ableism at the intersections, (3) COVID: Surfacing ableism and expanding access, and (4) Disability allyship and healthcare partnership building. Experiences of ableism and allyship were identified at individual, group/unit, and institutional/systemic levels, though participants reported significantly fewer instances of allyship compared to experiences of ableism. Participants identified intersections between disability and other marginalized identities and juxtaposed the benefits of widespread adoption of many access-increasing practices and technologies due to the COVID-19 pandemic, while also highlighting ways in which the pandemic created new obstacles to inclusion.Conclusions This analysis provides insights into ways of implementing inclusive practices in rehabilitation education, practice, and beyond. Rehabilitation students, faculty, and staff may not be aware of how ableism affects their disabled peers or underpins their professional education. It is important to cultivate opportunities within professional education and clinical training to explicitly address our collective role in creating inclusive and accessible academic and healthcare experiences for our diverse community post COVID-19. Drawing on a CDS framework, the research team devised the mnemonic TRAC, which includes Training, Recognition and Representation, Attendance and Action, and Calling to account as strategic guidelines for operationalizing such opportunities.
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