CAPTION: The Capitol Crawl, in which a group of disability rights activists from 30 states descended on the U.S. Capitol on March 12, 1990, to demand passage of the ADA, which would give equal rights to people with disabilities. Photograph by Tom Olin.

IMAGE DESCRIPTION: The wide gray steps of the Capitol building. One person crawls up the higher steps in the background while a photographer standing at the top takes photos. In the foreground, a person wearing a t-shirt that says ADAPT crawls backward up the lower steps.

My Program Reflection of My Experience in the Disability Studies Program at CUNY SPS

by Keith Murfee DeConcini

I have always thought of this program as a long but required introduction to my professional career. Over the past five years, which have seen me both pause and then reengage this degree, I have learned a lot about the emerging field of Disability Studies, how important a sense of community is to the overall function of the emerging field in accomplishing its goals, and personally how it feels to be a long-term academic, far beyond what I had imagined for myself just 10 years ago.

Through the completion of this degree (regardless of the possible Ph.D. after it) I will be considered by some to be a disability scholar. I do not feel that I hold that title, that distinction, at least not yet. This emerging field is so new and so vastly diverse that even if one manages to find their niche or two within it, they will still have to continuously be learning and growing in the knowledge presented to them. A scholar is different from an expert. My life experiences living in a body with disabilities have led me to this degree. Some may consider me already an expert in disability by living with it for as long as I have. I completely disagree.

Over the course of obtaining this degree, the works that I am most proud of include very personal papers like The Estrangement Factor of Mild Cerebral Palsy and my journal entry on my first word, “bucket,” as well as papers examining larger concepts like The Desirability of Disability: The Social Misconception of Asexuality and Exploring the Complexities of Disabled Masculinity. These papers range from exploring topics like Disability Pride through a media lens in Finding Disability Pride in American Horror Story: Freak Show to revisiting an extremely tainted era of American history in Terror of The Black Stork: Love Story to Eugenics to formulating a research query into the future of disability and masculinity in Toxic Masculinity and Disability.

“What we did for civil rights in the ’60s, we forgot to do for people with disabilities.”

~ Rep. Patricia Schroeder (D-Colo.), said of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990