Disability demands justice.

There Is No Justice Without Disability

It’s time to expand the definition of justice. Around the globe, people living with disabilities experience inequality in all its forms. To build a world where everyone is equal, we need to recognize how disability interconnects with the issues of social justice and follow the lead of the individuals at the center of the fight.

By centering intersectionality and the voices of those most marginalized—from people of color and queer to immigrants and indigenous people—disability justice encourages us to see how society’s diverse systems of oppression reinforce each other and affect every member of the disability community.

Ending inequality is a shared struggle, and only by working together will we remove the obstacles ahead and create a future of opportunity for all.


[Footage from a series of interviews features a diverse range of disability rights advocates in industrial studio settings.]

KERI GRAY: Disability is a normal, positive part of human diversity.

SARA MINKARA: There are one billion individuals in this world with disabilities.

JANE AKINYI: There’s a lot of kinds of different disabilities.

GRAY: Disabled people have other important identities.

REBECCA COKLEY: We want to have a say in everything that affects us.

MINKARA: We are people with disabilities building power and inclusive social justice movements.

DESSA COSMA: You can’t have racial justice or economic justice or gender justice without disability justice. Just like you can’t have disability justice without having racial, economic, and gender justice. To actually achieve any of those things requires achieving all of those things.

MADDY RUVOLO: When we evolve our institutions to be fully inclusive, we can build a world where all are free.

GRAY: True inclusion is revolutionary.

[on-screen graphic: There Is No Justice without Disability]

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Leaders from across the disability community share their views on disability and why an intersectional approach is needed.

Featuring interviews and footage of Jane Akinyi, Rabia Belt, Lawrence Carter-Long, Rebecca Cokley, Dessa Cosma, Ryan Easterly, Claudia Gordon, Keri Gray, Sara Minkara, Maddy Ruvolo, and Alice Wong.

Special thanks to Detroit Disability Power for allowing us to use its Guiding Principles.

No Equality Without Everyone

Two people in wheelchairs lead a protest with a banner that reads “Disabled People’s Liberation Front” with a crowd behind them.

As the Americans with Disabilities Act turns 30, president Darren Walker reflects on the role of philanthropy, the intersections of social justice, and why integrating disability into the fight for equality is the only path forward.

Read more from Darren Walker

A Honduran man sits in front of a wooden house surrounded by an older woman and a child. There is a cane leaning against the wall behind the man.  Photo: Antonio Busiello

The unknown ally in the fight for environmental justice

Extracting natural resources can exacerbate climate change, but it can also lead people to develop disabilities. Around the world, there are movements led by people with disabilities emerging, proving powerful partners in the fight to protect the planet. Connecting environmental justice to disability rights is vital, but it’s just beginning.

Read The Unknown Ally in the Fight for Environmental Justice

B&W photo of a Crip Camp counselor carrying one of the campers as another counselor looks on.

The camp that ignited a movement

How did Camp Jened in upstate New York inspire the political awakening that led to the Americans with Disabilities Act? Crip Camp creators Nicole Newnham and Jim LeBrecht talk about the power of community at the camp—and at the heart of the disability rights movement—and its importance in the fight for justice.

Read Nicole Newnham and Jim LeBrecht’s account

Judy Heumann in a wheelchair speaking into a microphone. She is wearing glasses and a coat with a Sign 504 sticker.

Activism across generations

Judy Heumann and Katherine Perez know the fight for justice doesn’t end with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The disability rights activists talk about how the movement has evolved, the barriers their community still faces, and why we need to understand that social justice is disability justice.

Read a conversation with Judy and Katherine

Rebecca Cokely, a little person, sitting in a brown leather chair in conversation with Maysoon Zaiyd, an average-size person against the window of the city skyline. They are both smiling.

On the road to justice

Understanding disability is a multifaceted, ever-evolving process—and it requires listening, learning, and recognizing the work needed. As a social justice foundation, we are committed to integrating inclusion and the values of disability justice into our work, but we have more to do.

Read reflections on Ford’s journey

Young disabled man in a wheelchair with a sign that reads "nothing about us, without us." Photo: elisney via Flickr

5 actions nonprofits can take to embrace disability rights and access

In honor of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, we joined forces with a number of our partners, from Community Change to Human Rights Watch, each at different stages in their journeys toward inclusion. Together, we laid out five concrete actions organizations of any kind can take to advance disability inclusion and move closer to equity and justice.

Read the full article in Nonprofit Quarterly.

Where disability and social justice intersect

A grid of black and white pictures of the Disability Fellows.

Meet the Fellows

Disability Futures Fellows

Disability Futures is an initiative—developed in partnership with The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and administered by United States Artists—to spotlight the work of disabled creatives across disciplines and geography.

Pink clouds background with black type that reads Disability Futures Virtual Festival

Watch the festival

Disability Futures Virtual Festival

This dynamic convening of disabled creative practitioners took place July 19-20, 2021; we celebrated and honored the work of the DISABILITY FUTURES fellows and their collaborators. The event featured American Sign Language (ASL) and live closed captioning and audio descriptions in English.

Image of four disability justice leaders over a green circle on a black background.


Social Justice: What’s disability got to do with it?

Interested in accelerating your work through making disability-inclusive changes in your organization? Then, this video is for you!

Image of Stacy Kono wearing a blue top against a light green background.


“Understanding our country’s long history of systemic discrimination and exclusion of people with disabilities challenges us as individuals and organizations to weed out deeply engrained ideas and practices.”

Stacy Kono,
Hand in Hand

Image of three disability justice leaders over a green circle


Voting Rights for All

Join disability justice leaders Imani Barbarin, Michelle Bishop and Bianca Laureano for a conversation about barriers people with disabilities face in the voting process and ways we can all support solutions.

A young black boy with autism smiles with his arms raised in the schoolyard. He is wearing a bright orange puffy coat.


1 billion people, or 15% of the world’s population, live with some form of disability.

Read the WHO World Report on Disability

Image of four disability justice leaders over a green circle on a black background.


A new social contract: Centering disability in the future of the work

Before COVID-19, people with disabilities were 40% less likely to be employed. Disability justice and rights leaders Day Al-Mohamed, Teresa Danso-Danquah, and Taryn Williams imagine rebuilding our economy with inclusive policies and workplaces that ensure safe, fair work for all.

Sara Minkara, a blind Lebanese-American woman, wearing a white headscarf holds her cane with both hands to her right while seated.


“Disability is a beautiful part of our society. It’s an asset.”

Sara Minkara,
Empowerment Through Integration

A History Lesson

Lawrence Carter-Long of Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, a Ford grantee, provides a short history on the fight for disability rights, illustrating its role in America’s larger movement for civil rights and how this community-led effort has been intersectional from the start.

Jamila Headley


Voting Rights for All

“Why advance disability justice? It’s not just critical to achieving a world where we can all thrive, it also radically changes how we [as social justice leaders] approach our work.”

Jamila Headley
Center for Popular Democracy

Cindy Clark


“We were hearing that we weren’t doing enough to bring women with disabilities into the space in a meaningful way. It became a rallying point to push feminist movements to be more inclusive.”

Cindy Clark,
The Association for Women’s Rights in Development

A man with a cognitive disability sewing a garment with a sewing machine. He has brown hair and is wearing a dark blue sweater.


Only 4 out of 10 working-age adults with disabilities are employed.

Source: Brookings Institution

A handmade sign that reads “Help, we matter 2” hang in a cell window of a prison guarded by barbed wire.


People in US state and federal prisons are nearly three times as likely to have a disability as the nonincarcerated population.

Read “Disabled Behind Bars” from Center for American Progress

Alice Wong, an Asian American woman in a wheelchair wearing a mask over her nose attached to a tube for a BiPAP machine that helps her breathe. She is wearing a navy striped shirt and dark pants.


“All people need to exercise their right to speak out.”

Alice Wong
Disability Visibility Project

Two black women wearing protective masks and seated in a school gymnasium filling out ballots to vote.


Voting turnout for the disabled community lags nearly 6 percentage points behind nondisabled people due to accessibility issues.

Read “Disabled Behind Bars” from Center for American Progress

Alexandra Reeve Givens


“There’s an important growing public conversation about how technology affects marginalized communities, but rarely does that conversation integrate an understanding of disability.”

Alexandra Reeve Givens,
Center for Democracy and Technology

Rebecca Cokley


“This is not a call-out. This is a call-in.”

Rebecca Cokley
Disability Justice Initiative at the Center for American Progress

A black and white photo of a group of people performing using sign language.

Where are you in your journey?

Join the conversation.


We believe integrating disability into the fight for justice is the only path to achieve equality. Learn more about our journey as we move beyond inclusion toward the values of disability justice.