Disability Community Month Events

For decades the U-M Council for Disability Concerns has produced an annual series of events, previously named Investing in Ability. This year the events are renamed Disability Community Month to more closely capture the council’s mission to raise awareness of disability topics on campus and in the community. The events include speakers, demonstrations, films, and the presentation of the James T. Neubacher Award. 

Disability Community Month events are presented in collaboration with University Human Resources, Michigan Medicine, and University Health Service. All events are free and everyone is welcome. If accommodations are needed, contact disability@umich.edu at least 48 hours in advance.

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Disability Community Month Events Calendar

October 2: Unintended Consequences: Panel on the Impact of “opioid crisis” messaging on those with chronic pain

  • Time: 3 - 5pm
  • Location: Hatcher Library Gallery  

October 3: 'Seeing all your comments makes me feel less alone': Webcomics and Depression

  • Time: 1:30 - 3pm
  • Location: Hatcher Library Gallery  
  • Presenter: Leah Misemer

Because they appear in social media feeds and are easily shared online, webcomics can be a powerful method of solidarity building for marginalized audiences.  In this public lecture, Dr. Leah Misemer will discuss how the spread of Allie Brosh's webcomic Hyperbole and a Half increases the visibility of the experience of depression, while the comments section provides a space for conversations about depression that counteract the feelings of isolation associated with the illness.  Based on this case study, Misemer suggests that, as comics and digital media, webcomics are uniquely positioned to raise awareness about and to counter the social stigma surrounding mental illness.

October 4: 1,2,3: Drawing to Think (Workshop)

Leah Misemer says: “I am writing a book about how marginalized groups--such as women, LGBT folks, and people with disabilities--have used comics to form communities of solidarity, and yes, that means I research and teach comics. As a former student of cartoonist Lynda Barry, I believe strongly in drawing to think through ideas, a principle that guides the Research Drawing Jam workshop I teach."

October 10: Penny Stamps Speaker Series:  Mari Katayama: “My Body as Material”

  • Time: 5:10 - 6:30pm
  • Location: Michigan Theater

Japanese artist Mari Katayama features her own body in a provocative series of works combining photography, sculpture, and textiles.

October 11: Dogs on the Diag: Assistance and Therapy Dogs and Dogs in Training

  • Time: 11am - 1pm
  • Location: U-M Central Diag in front of Graduate Library

From puppies being fostered to grownup, trained service dogs, we will have a festive and joyful dog party in the Diag. You can find out about these helpful animals and even pat and play with them. Therapaws, Paws with a Cause, Canine Assistants, and others will be featured.

October 12: Mari Katayama exhibition

  • Exhibit on display October 12, 2019 - January 26, 2020
  • Location: UMMA-University of Michigan Museum of Art

October 17: “A bioethics of (dis)(ability), or: where to place the emphasis” A panel discussion

  • Time: 2 - 4pm
  • Location: Hatcher Library Gallery
  • Speakers: Professor Barry Belmont and panel

A roundtable discussion on the ethical implications of disability studies. With the help of the audience and a panel of researchers we will consider how ability is assessed, what the (dis)abled want and need, and what it means to be fully human in a world of partial solutions.

October 18: “If you are going to walk the walk, you gotta talk the talk”, Two Linguistics Professors discuss DEI language

  • Time: 4 - 5:30pm
  • Location: Michigan Medicine CVC, Danto Auditorium
  • Speakers: Linguistics Professors Robin Queen and Natasha Abner

Part of diversity is linguistic diversity and part of inclusivity is linguistic inclusivity. Discrimination frequently occurs due to stereotypes about people's languages, dialects, and ways of speaking. Efforts to include different languages in public spaces and to create a more inclusive public discourse are sometimes perceived as inappropriate policing of other people's language, even by people who generally support diversity and inclusion initiatives. Professors Natasha Abner and Robin Queen discuss ideas about language that can lead to discrimination, as well as the merits and the criticisms of inclusive language efforts, drawing from specific cases that have received national attention as well as significant attention on the University of Michigan campus.

October 21: “An Ingenious Way to Live: Fostering Disability Culture in Higher Education”

  • Time: 12 - 2pm
  • Location: Rackham Auditorium

Disability is not a great struggle or 'courage in the face of adversity.' Disability is an art. It's an ingenious way to live." -Neil Marcus

In this panel event, scholars and practitioners discuss opportunities for ingenuity as a growing number of higher education institutions shift toward an intersectional cultural model of disability.  Panelists: Dr Stephanie Kerchbaum, Lloyd Shelton, Piotr Pasik, and liz thompson. Moderated by Ashley Wiseman with welcoming remarks from Robert Adams.

Accessibility Information: 
The RSVP form includes an opportunity for you to tell us how we can ensure you are able to access the event. You can also reach out to Ashley Wiseman wisemana@umich.edu
Additional accessibility information is available on the rsvp form: myumi.ch/QAnrZ.

October 23: Persuasion, Human Improvement, and Disability: A Talk from Fables and Futures

  • Time: 6-8 pm
  • Location: University of Michigan Museum of Art - Helmut Stern Auditorium
  • Open to all 
  • Presenter: Award-winning Poet and Memoirist George Estreich

In this talk, award-winning poet and memoirist George Estreich will draw from his new book, Fables and Futures: Biotechnology, Disability, and the Stories We Tell Ourselves (MIT Press, 2019).

From Francis Galton's “Essays in Eugenics” to the announcement of the first gene-edited babies, the dream of human improvement has been entwined with persuasion. Looking at contemporary and historical examples, from the famous allegorical drawing of the “Eugenics Tree” to Chinese scientist He Jiankui's YouTube announcement of gene-edited twins, Estreich will explore the literary aspects of persuasion, with particular attention to metaphor. What values do these persuasive acts embody? Whose purposes do they serve? And whom do they obscure, dehumanize or erase? The literary content of these persuasive acts suggests a necessary role for writers, literary critics, and scholars of disability studies, as we seek to guide the use of new and powerful biotechnologies in human beings.

October 23: Accessibility for Large Courses

Large courses present particular challenges for fostering accessible learning environments that effectively anticipate a range of student bodies, minds, and learning needs. In this interactive session, instructors of large courses will reflect on their teaching practices and think together about how to implement strategies for promoting accessibility in their specific teaching contexts. Key topics include classroom technology policies, student privacy, and recognizing and resisting ableist assumptions when working with students to implement individual accommodations.

October 24: Demystifying Digital Scholarship: Accessible Digital Projects

  • Time: 9am - 1pm
  • Location: Hatcher Graduate Library Gallery
  • Keynote: Jasmine Clark

This event will focus on accessibility in digital projects. Jasmine Clark will give an opening keynote, and provide a hands-on workshop on “Active Accessible Design Thinking Utilizing EEAAP.

October 24: Young, Gifted, at Risk, and Resilient (YGARR). Promoting Mental Health and Well-Being Among Students of Color

  • Time: 8:30am - 5pm
  • Location: Michigan League

The Steve Fund and the National Center for Institutional Diversity at the University of Michigan present a day-long conference with leading researchers, practitioners, administrators, faculty and students to focus on campus climate and mental health among young adult/college students of color. 

October 25: James T. Neubacher Awards Ceremony and Certificates of Appreciation

  • Time: 9:30 -  11:45am
  • Location: Rackham Assembly Hall 

Established by U-M’s Council for Disability Concerns, the James T. Neubacher Award is a memorial to university alumnus and columnist for the Detroit Free Press who advocated for people with disabilities. The Ceremony (30th since the Awards were established) is intended to recognize those members of the UM community (faculty/staff/students/alums) who have gone above and beyond their ordinary duties in contributing to the advancement of disability issues by reducing stigma, and working to improve access for everyone.

October 29: Superfest Film Festival Showcase

  • Time: 6 - 8pm
  • Location: University of Michigan Museum of Art - Helmut Stern Auditorium
  • Free and open to the public

Ann Arbor is very proud to host the first local showcase of short films from Superfest International Disability Film Festival, the longest-running disability film festival in the world.

Superfest celebrates cutting-edge cinema that portrays disability through a diverse, complex, unabashed and engaging lens. And Superfest is one of the few festivals worldwide that is accessible to disabled filmgoers of all kinds. 

Registration and more information at Eventbrite.

All films shown with open captions & audio description. ASL interpreters provided. For other access requests, mail CfDC-chair@umich.edu by Oct. 22nd.

Films will be followed by a special late-night viewing of the Mari Katayama exhibition at the UMMA Irving Stenn, Jr. Family Gallery. Presented by: U-M Council for Disability Concerns, Services for Students with Disabilities, Office for Health Equity and Inclusion, Institute for the Humanities, Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design, and the U-M Museum of Art