Society for Disability Studies (SDS) Annual Convention 2009: Call for Proposals

NOTE FROM ST: If you are organizing a conference and wish to make it inclusive of, and accessible to, a diverse range of disabled people, you should take some cues from the requirements for accessible presentations which are provided in this CFP following the description of themes for this conference. Notice, for instance, that the accessibility provisions are made explicit in the CFP itself.  Thus, disabled individuals who wish to submit a paper and/or attend the conference are not required to contact the conference organizers themselves in order to inquire about the accessibility of the event, nor are they left to guess, hope, or take their chances in regard to its accessibility.


The Society for Disability Studies is pleased to announce a call for proposals for its annual convention, to be held June 17-20, 2009, in Tucson, Arizona, at the Hilton El Conquistador Resort.  The theme for this convention is “It’s ‘Our’ Time: Pathways to and From Disability Studies—Past, Present, Future.”  Time, in all its forms, conceptualizations, and manifestations, will be the central focus of the conference, though proposals on any topic relevant to Disability Studies are welcomed.  We imagine a number of different ways of approaching the issue of time, a concept critical to all aspects of disability experience and culture:

o   Cultural:  Is there such a thing as “disability time”?  How do different cultural constructions and experiences of time affect people with disabilities?

o   Economic:  How is time a form of “capital,” both for people with disabilities and those involved in the “disability industry?”  For people with disabilities who must interact with ableist norms of time in the labor force?

o   Political:  What is disability’s “moment” in 2009, a time when, whatever the outcome of elections in the U.S. and elsewhere, “change,” a temporal and political idea, is declaimed and echoed in much rhetoric.  What current issues are particularly “timely” for disability studies—and how are such issues tied to past and future?

o   Educational:  How do issues of time, including controversies around and resistance to accommodations around time for people with disabilities, play themselves out in educational environments?

o   Psychological/Philosophical:  What does phenomenology’s enduring interest in internal time/ consciousness have to offer to understanding the intersection of disability experience and cross-ability inter-subjectivity?  How is individual experience of time related to such realms as social and community psychology?  Do different disabilities lead to different psychologies and/or philosophies of time?

o   Historical:  History is, in a sense, the “biggest” unit of time.   How do different eras view the role of time in disability experience? What is the relationship between disability history and temporality?  Both studies of specific historical moments of disability and cross-historical studies are welcome.

o   The Arts:    How is time represented in literary, visual, musical, performing, and mediated forms of art?  How are questions of duration and endurance crucial to the roles of artists with disabilities in the
social and cultural domains of the arts?

o   Medicine/Science:  How do issues of longevity, physical and psychological capability, and social regulation of the lives of people with disabilities affect access and opportunities?  How are medicine and science reconfiguring time and creating new conceptions of futures?

These are only suggestions of possible directions proposals around the convention theme might take—we imagine members will go off in many more directions as well.  After all, it’s “our” time.

We welcome proposals in the following formats:

o   Individual:  Individuals are encouraged to submit proposals for individual papers and/or presentations.  In general, we assume 15-20 minute length limits for individuals (if you are requesting a longer format, be sure to specify and explain why).  Word limit for individual proposal: 200 words

o   Panels: Groups of individuals are encouraged to submit proposals around a central topic, theme, or approach.  Such proposals should aim for a total length of no more than 75 minutes, including time for
responses, discussion, and questions.  Please include names of all panelists, names or presentations, and a brief description of each paper/presentation.  Word limit for panel proposal:  500 words.

o   Didactic/Short Courses:  We welcome proposals for two kinds of “teaching” programs.  The former, didactic sessions, should be 75 minutes in length, featuring either one or a small number of presenters, who will “teach” an audience about some important aspect of disability studies.  Proposals should also include details about materials provided for audience members and ways in which audience members will be involved interactively.  Short courses will follow the same organization, but may be of greater scope, with a double session scheduled.  A rationale for such a scope should be included as part of the proposal.  Didactic sessions and short courses on issues surrounding teaching disability studies are particularly encouraged.
Word limit:  200 words

o   Poster Session:  There will be a poster session, as has become traditional at the conference, at which individuals or small teams will be provided a common space to present a visual display of research;
presenters should plan on being in attendance at the poster session, in order to amplify the visual display and to interact with viewers.  We encourage people to submit proposals specifically for the poster
session.  Word limit:  200 words

o   Artistic/Performance Events:   We encourage submissions of an artistic or performance nature—everything from gallery showings of visual arts to musical concerts to theatrical, literary, and comedy
performances to dance/movement pieces.  These may be proposed by individuals and/or groups, and may or may not fit into the standard time formats specified for other proposals.  Word limit:  200 words

o   Town Halls/Debates:  We encourage proposal of town hall sessions (primary speakers with opportunity for “town” involvement in discussion) or structured debates on a proposition (with assigned affirmative and negative speakers, followed by open discussion). 

Again, we envision these as 75 minute sessions, but are open to other proposals.  We welcome lunchtime roundtables and other innovative formats as well—the more inventive the better!  Word limit:  200 words

Accessibility in presentations is central to the philosophy of SDS.  Presenters should explore ways to make physical, sensory, and intellectual access a fundamental part of their presentation.  Presenters must make all printed materials used during the presentation available to audience in standard (12 point font) as well as in large (18 point font) print.  Hard copy images, charts and other visual representations must be captioned or described in a manner that conveys their meaning without having the need to look at it.  Video clips,
films and all visual images must include open or close captioning as well as audio description.

Presentations should also be planned so that their delivery will accommodate open-captioning and ASL translation. In order to facilitate ASL interpretation and open captioning, drafts of accepted presentations will be due via e-mail by May 1, 2009. If you have questions about making your presentation accessible, please contact the Program Co-chairs at

PROPOSALS ARE DUE NO LATER THAN JANUARY 15, 2009.  Instructions for submitting proposals and other information about the process (including an electronic submission form) are available on the SDS website at the 2009 SDS conference site.  Questions about the application process or other administrative matters may be directed to

Conference co-chairs for the 2009 convention are:  Christine McCohnell, Ramapo College of New Jersey, Joan Ostrove, Macalester College, and Bruce Henderson, Ithaca College.  Questions may be directed to the
co-chairs at

Proposals will be reviewed by the conference Program Committee: Christine Komoroski-McCohnell, Bruce Henderson, Joan Ostrove (co-chairs); Shilpaa Anand, Susan Baglieri, Christopher Bell, Allison Carey, Michael Chemers, Jim Ferris, Deborah Little, Carol Marfisi, Akemi Nishida, Michael Rembis, and Cindy Wu.

One thought on “Society for Disability Studies (SDS) Annual Convention 2009: Call for Proposals

  1. To follow up on my remarks that precede this post, I feel compelled to say the following. I would like it if the blog adopted a policy of not posting conference announcements (like the one I posted the other day about the U of Oregon conference) which are not inclusive and fail to provide information about accessibility provisions. Such conferences, regardless of the intentions of their organizers, position nondisabled people/presenters/attendees as the norm from which disabled people/participants/delegates are the departure or, more exactly, the exception. These manifestations of ableism and ableist privilege are always troubling, but even moreso, when disability is a central theme or focus of a given conference. I suspect that my proposal to exclude such conference announcements and calls for papers will meet with some resistance from other contributors to the What Sorts blog; thus, let me state that henceforth my own policy will be to avoid posting such announcements and cfps on the blog.

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