Documenting Our Disability History
My name is Sandy Novack, and I have served on the Disability Policy Consortium Board of Directors since 2018. I am also the Chair of the Board’s Advocacy Committee.
Last month, at the DPC annual awards event, I announced a history project that DPC plans to offer for people with disabilities across the state of Massachusetts. History belongs to those who get written into history, and for too long that has not included many people with disabilities. We want to change that.
During the pandemic, we have lost many of our friends, family, colleagues, and neighbors who had disabilities. Many of them gave their time over many years to stand up for the civil rights, needs, and desires people with disabilities have, whether in the medical, housing, education, work, or other spheres of life. Yet, too many died without their individual, family, or community efforts around disability documented.
Please help DPC spread the word to residents of Massachusetts who have disabilities that we want to encourage residents to tell their disability history. If you have the ability to write your own biography as a book with a disability lens, or want to write a chapter on a certain portion of your life for combining with your peers who may also want to contribute a chapter for an anthology, please start writing now. If you let me know your contact information, including any email address you may have, I will follow up with you. Please drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org, and please put in the subject line that the subject of your email is “Writing Our Disability History.” If you do not use email, leave a message at the DPC office for me with your phone number.
On the other hand, if you want to tell your story, but due to a disability it would not be possible to get down on paper your story yourself, but you want your story to be told, kindly call DPC or email them to let them know your contact information, and I will be in touch with you, too. In the months ahead, DPC and others in the disability network will be developing a plan on how to help you tell your story.
We have no immediate endpoint to this project. So, if you are not ready to tell any part of your story now, feel free to pick this opportunity up and run with it when you can, no immediate time pressure from us. Whether you live on Cape Cod, in the Berkshires, North of Boston, or any where else in the state, your life story is important. Our goal is to place as many life stories of people with disabilities in general libraries, disability study libraries, and other locations, and in this way develop the disability history resources to pass down to those who come after us.
I bet when many of us were in junior or senior high school studying the Civil War and other segments of history, over and over again you read about men in history books, but very little about women. And, I bet you read even less, if anything, on people with disabilities in history. We want to change that.
No story is too short, no story is insignificant. Tell us about transportation and disability, exercise and disability, sexuality and disability, dating and disability. Let’s face it, there is a disability angle to every single part of life, so your options on what to write about are wide open.
For those of you unsure how to begin, feel free to be in touch with me. The first step to writing your story could be to start with one issue around disability close to your heart, how it impacted you, why it matters to you, what you tried to do about it. It does not have to be a success story. As many of you know, successes rarely come easily or quickly, if they come at all. And that in itself is a story future readers need to read about. It won’t discourage them to stand up and advocate, in fact it could be a blueprint for them on how you chose to do what you did and how you would envision next steps.
So, go forth and live your life, but share your story on your life for the sake of documenting disability history and marking the future of life with disabilities.
Contributions can be submitted to email@example.com. please put in the subject line that the subject of your email is “Writing Our Disability History.” If you do not use email, leave a message at the DPC office for Sandy Novack with your phone number.
On the other hand, if you want to tell your story, but due to a disability it would not be possible to get down on paper your story yourself, but you want your story to be told, kindly call DPC or email them to let them know your contact information, and Sandy will be in touch with you.