Errata Notice

There are two corrections to the Winter 2009 (29.1) Special Section of "Selected Papers from the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: A Call for Action on Poverty, Lack of Access, and Discrimination."

  1. Dr. Jean-Francois Trani should be documented as a co-author of the special section's Introduction.
  2. 2. The name of one of the co-authors of the paper, "The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: From the Perspective of Young People" was misspelled. The correct spelling is: Daintowon D. Pay-bayee

World Religions and Disability: Cross-Cultural and Interdisciplinary Perspectives

Submission deadline (for Abstract Submissions): July 1, 2009

Co-editors: Darla Schumm and Michael Stoltzfus

The editors of World Religions and Disability: Cross-Cultural and Interdisciplinary Perspectives invite contributions for an inter-disciplinary and cross-cultural collection of essays that critically examine how the religions of the world represent, understand, theologize, theorize and respond to disability and/or chronic illness. Religious teachings and practices help to establish cultural standards for what is deemed "normal" human physical and mental behavior and in establishing a moral order for the fit and healthy body and mind. Religion plays an important role in determining how disability is understood and how persons with disabilities are treated or mistreated in a given historical-cultural context.

The existent literature exploring intersections between religion and disability typically focuses on a single religious tradition or cultural context, often prioritizing a Judeo-Christian approach. In response to the challenges and opportunities posed by a post-modern, pluralistic, global world, our goal in this volume is to promote interdisciplinary, cross-cultural, and inter-religious conversations regarding world religions and disability. We welcome a wide variety of methodological and theoretical approaches including ethnography, historical, cultural, or textual analysis, personal narrative, and theological/philosophical investigation. Contributors are especially encouraged to incorporate into their analysis literature and theoretical perspectives from the growing field of disability studies. Our aim is to produce a comparative text discussing religion and disability which gives voice to scholars and practitioners of many of the world's rich and varied religious traditions, actively engages the field of disability studies, and reflects multicultural and inter-religious attitudes and perspectives. We invite contributions which offer creative and critical insights on the intersections between world religions and disability.

Abstracts not to exceed 600 words are due by July 1, 2009 and should be sent to: and Please note that acceptance of an abstract does not guarantee inclusion in the collection; editors will review and make final decisions upon receipt of the completed essays.

Any questions may also be directed to Darla Schumm and Michael Stoltzfus at the addresses listed above.

Possible topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • Asian religions and disability
  • Indigenous and/or native religions and disability
  • Disability and inter-religious comparison, contrast, and dialogue
  • Celtic, Druid, and/or Wiccan religions and disability
  • Religious and/or sacred texts and disability
  • Religion, prejudice, ethics and disability
  • Religious conceptions of creation, evil, sin, healing, suffering and disability
  • Religious/philosophical conceptions of the body or self and disability
  • Founders of religions (i.e. Mohammad, Buddha, Jesus, etc.) and their encounters with disability
  • The shaping of identity, religion, and disability
  • Religious rituals and the inclusion or exclusion of persons with disabilities
  • Critical perspectives on religion and disability
  • Theologies of disability

"Why is There Learning Disabilities?" — Revisiting Christine Sleeter's Socio-political Construction of Disability Two Decades On

Submission deadline: February 1, 2009 (submissions are now closed)

Projected publication date: Spring 2010

Co-editors: David J. Connor & Beth A. Ferri

It has been just over 20 years since the publication of Christine Sleeter's, "Why is there learning disabilities? A critical analysis of the birth of the field in its social context." In this germinal publication, Sleeter argues that the category of LD emerged to fulfill a particular political and economic purpose during the Cold War threats to U.S. supremacy. She writes that the category of LD enabled parents to differentiate and protect white middle class children who were failing in school from lower class and minority children, during a time when schools were being called upon to raise standards for economic and military purposes (1987, p. 212).

According to Sleeter, the category of LD allowed schools to explain the failure of white middle class children, who were having a difficult time dealing increased expectations for achievement, in ways that did not threaten white supremacy or the presumed worthiness of middle class children, their homes, or their families.

The prescience of Sleeter's argument to the emergence of disability studies in education is obvious. She writes that "rather than being a discovery of science," LD is a constructed category that allowed schools to maintain "race and class stratification., but in a way that appears to be based on innate human variation and objective assessment of individual characteristics" (p. 234). Sleeter's analysis was also one of the first to connect the construction of LD with racial and social class oppression — a topic that is still under theorized today.

Although Sleeter locates the emergence of the category of LD in the context of the Cold War era of industrial and military expansion, the U.S. is once again experiencing an increased emphasis on standards in education. Then, as now, we see an escalation of concern over academic ranking of children in the U.S. compared to other countries. Then, as now, the U.S. faces a threat to its status as the primary political power in the world. Then, and now, the government is responding to these challenges with an increased focus on raising standards.

The purpose of this special issue of DSQ is to revisit Sleeter's ideas about the construction of LD (and, by implication, the construction of disabilities, "school-based" and otherwise), while bringing her work in conversation with contemporary debates and analyses within disability studies and disability studies in education.

Structure of Issue

The issue will begin with a reprinting of Sleeter's 1987 article (pending necessary permission), or an introductory article by Sleeter where she revisits her earlier article and puts it in a contemporary context. Each contributor will be asked to build on or engage with Sleeter's original work in some way.


  • Sleeter, C. E. (1987). Why is there learning disabilities? A critical analysis of the birth of the field with its social context. In T. S. Popkewitz (Ed.), The foundations of the school subjects. (pp. 210-237). London: Palmer Press.
  • Potential Themes and Prompts

    Some potential themes that could be developed in the issue are listed below in no particular order:

    • In what ways do children and youth who receive the same label of LD have very different school experiences based on class and/or race?
    • How is the renewed emphasis on "evidenced-based" practice and "scientific research" in relation to teaching methods recommended for students LD reinforcing medicalized conceptions of disability?
    • What can be learned by exploring the discourse regarding the unfettered growth of LD in schools (representing 50% of all children with disabilities)?
    • How has the expansion of the LD diagnoses given rise to a burgeoning LD industry involving professional certifications, professional specializations (i.e. school psychologists, educational evaluators, therapists, counselors), professional organizations, conferences, publications, commercially made materials, specialized schools, international and national networks, powerful lobbyists, test preparation, learning centers, etc.
    • How has Response to Intervention (RTI) been touted as a tool to stem the flow of increasing numbers of students with LD? How does RTI reinforce traditional notions of LD and traditional modes of instructional delivery?
    • What are the social and political aspects of LD?
    • In what ways are public schools unprepared and inhospitable to children with dyslexia and other learning disabilities?
    • What is the impact of increased and seemingly relentless emphasis on standards for students labeled LD? In what ways has international academic competition changed?
    • In what ways are LD and inclusive education at odds with standards. For example, the New York City public school system has policies such as 'Failing to Meet the Criteria' for grade promotion that results in grade retention of students with LD, despite their documented disability and that research has consistently proven a correlation with dropping out.
    • Why are such high numbers of students with LD dropping out of school?
    • How might a DSE understanding (or understandings) of LD be articulated?
    • What can be gained by using the concept of LD to unpack and critique the concept of intellectual/academic/cognitive normalcy?
    • What is to be made of the history of LD, traditional and alternative(s), since Sleeter's account published over 20 years ago?
    • How does class and race still significantly play into LD?
    • In what ways is LD arguably marginalized in the hierarchy of disability within DS?
    • How has the increased interest and growth of other categories that merge/overlap with LD such as ADD, ADHD, Asperger's Syndrome, BD/ED, Gifted and LD complicate or change concepts of LD/disability?
    • Why does LD continue to be stigmatized to the extent that it is?


    We invite articles from a wide range of potential contributors in the fields of critical special education and disability studies, including both established and emerging scholars. We also seek a variety of stakeholder perspectives, such as educators, students, parents, other professionals, policy-makers, and individuals who identify as learning disabled. All manuscripts will be peer reviewed. Both scholarly and creative work will be featured in the issue.

    Manuscripts must be in the form of a Word document and:

    • Have a cover page that includes the author's name, institutional affiliation, and contact information (e-mail, telephone number, and address)
    • Have an abstract of 100-150 words
    • Be between 3,000-6,000 words in length (approximately 10-20 double spaced pages)
    • Provide full references for all citations
    • Include a brief bio of the author (50-100 words)
    • Adhere to general DSQ guidelines:

    If you prefer to submit a hard copy of your article, it should be typed on one side of letter size white paper, double-spaced throughout, including the reference section. Please enclose four (4) copies in an envelope postmarked by February 1, 2009 to Dr. David J. Connor, Room 917W, Department of Education, Hunter College, 695 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10065.

    Please send manuscripts in electronic form to both and by February 1, 2009. If you have any questions, please contact David or Beth at the e-mail address above.

    Projected Timeline

    February 1, 2009Submission of papers for review
    July 1, 2009Papers returned to authors for revisions
    Oct 1, 2009Revised papers sent to editors
    Dec 1, 2009Papers returned to authors for further revisions (as needed)
    Jan 15, 2010All revised papers (as needed) sent to editors
    Feb 15, 2010Papers ready for copyediting by DSQ
    Spring 2010Special edition of DSQ

    CFP: Special Issue of Disability Studies Quarterly on Autism

    Submission deadline: Jan. 1 2009 (submissions are now CLOSED)

    Projected publication date: Summer 2010

    Co-editors: Emily Thornton Savarese, University of Iowa, and Ralph James Savarese, Grinnell College

    We are looking for completed articles, from a disability studies perspective, on what the medical community refers to as ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). We are especially interested in pieces that engage the so-called "low-functioning" end of the spectrum, where increasingly those presumed retarded and lacking social awareness are writing back to the empire of science. As the field of disability studies has theorized cognitive difference, it has had to refine its cherished social-constructionist approach, making sure to account for physiological distinctiveness in the organ of sensibility, a distinctiveness that has been interpreted in a myriad of ways, most quite prejudicial. We are interested in the burgeoning neurodiversity movement, which has self-consciously resisted such prejudicial interpretations, often revealing the "science" of autism to be anything but reliable and objective. How to talk about autistic difference? How to represent it? How to convey its gifts and challenges? Who can talk about it? What role should parents play in this representational arena? What role should teachers, doctors, researchers, therapists, media entities, and academics play? What kind of interdisciplinary approaches are needed to understand, respect, and even cherish autism?

    We are open to the widest array of progressive approaches and topics. The latter include, but are not limited to issues of

    • race/ethnicity
    • sexuality
    • self-representation/autobiography
    • movement and cognition
    • perceptual acuities
    • popular cultural representations
    • internet
    • blogging
    • literacy
    • communication
    • the arts
    • treatments, cures, prevention
    • science/research
    • eugenics
    • education/inclusion
    • disability rights
    • employment
    • perseveration, echolalia
    • independence

    Questions or queries may be sent to or

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    Copyright (c) 2009 Brenda Brueggemann, Scot Danforth

    Volume 1 through Volume 20, no. 3 of Disability Studies Quarterly is archived on the Knowledge Bank site; Volume 20, no. 4 through the present can be found on this site under Archives.

    Beginning with Volume 36, Issue No. 4 (2016), Disability Studies Quarterly is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives license unless otherwise indicated. 

    Disability Studies Quarterly is published by The Ohio State University Libraries in partnership with the Society for Disability Studies.

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    ISSN: 2159-8371 (Online); 1041-5718 (Print)