May 31, 2022
June 1st marks the City of Ottawa’s 19th annual AccessAbility Day.
This day serves to celebrate the diverse community of persons with disabilities, as well as to underscore the city’s ongoing commitment to accessibility.
The theme of this year’s AccessAbility Day is intersectionality.
First coined by legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989, intersectionality refers to the concept that various aspects of a person’s identity (race/ethnicity, gender, age, education, income, disability etc.) overlap to grant them privilege, cause them to experience discrimination, and sometimes both. Intersectionality is a practical way of understanding how people can experience discrimination on multiple levels, and in different ways. For example, a white woman with a disability will experience discrimination differently than a Black woman. Both women will likely experience discrimination or exclusion due to sexism and ableism (prejudice or discrimination towards people with disabilities), but the Black woman will experience this more severely, due to the racism that is systemic in our society. In addition, the experience of disability has changed greatly throughout the centuries and differs between cultures.
In recent years, many disability activists of colour have criticized the portrayal of people with disabilities in popular media as being overwhelmingly white. They have called for disability representation that accurately reflects the disabled population. In keeping with the theme of intersectionality, OPL has highlighted books written by and about people with disabilities from diverse backgrounds.
In The Pretty One, by Keah Brown, the author, born with cerebral palsy, tells of her journey to self-love, while discussing the media’s distorted view of disability, her love of pop culture, and how she created the viral hashtag #DisabledAndCute.
In So Lucky, Nicola Griffith writes a deeply personal story of Mara, a woman whose wife of many years leaves her in the same week that receives an overwhelming medical diagnosis.
If you are looking for insight into the diverse experiences of people with disabilities, Disability Visibility is an excellent option. Edited by activist Alice Wong, who hosts a podcast of the same name, and runs the Disability Visibility Project website, this book is a collection of essays written by disabled people from all backgrounds and walks of life. Published in 2020, at the time of the 30th anniversary of the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act, this book shows how far we have come, and how far we still have left to go.
This is just a sample of what’s available at the Ottawa Public Library for adults, teens and kids. For more reading suggestions, check out our bilingual books lists below.