An increasing number of colleges and universities are working to create disability cultural centers to raise awareness about the perspectives and experiences of students with disabilities, foster community in a safe space, embrace disability as an identity to be celebrated, and promote activism and disability justice. Disability cultural centers aim to honor and celebrate disability culture, as opposed to disability resource centers which tend to focus more on legal accommodation issues. At least 11 such centers currently exist and students are working to create approximately 12 more on their campuses.
One of those students, Katie Sullivan at the University of Wisconsin Madison, told The Chronicle of Higher Education that creating such a space is “sacred” to her. “Within this coalition of students, there’s this understanding of, yeah, we all have different disabilities and different experiences, but we have this common objective of dismantling ableism and, you know, making higher education something that’s safe for everyone,” she said.
Some institutions’ disability cultural centers focus on bringing speakers to campus, providing resources and hosting social events. At Syracuse University, the Disability Cultural Center hosts an annual inclusive and adaptive sports and health/wellness program that includes pet therapy, a climbing wall and adaptive bikes.
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