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Disability & Neurodiversity Resources

A guide to resources for researching disability and neurodiversity topics, reading disabled and neurodiverse voices, and seeking disabled and neurodiverse literature and media.


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Background Information

Triton College Library has a wide array of resources for research into disability, neurodiversity, and accessibility topics. This is a general purpose guide for researching disability and neurodiversity topics, reading disabled and neurodiverse voices, and seeking literature and media created by and/or featuring disabled and neurodiverse people and characters. 

General Reference

General terms: 

  • Ableism - Refers to prejudice and/or discrimination against people with disabilities. 
  • Accessibility – Describes the quality of being easily used, entered, or reached by people with disabilities in reference to the design of products, devices, services, curricula, or built environments. 
  • Adaptive technology – Refers to adjusted versions of existing technologies or tools so people with disabilities can more easily use them. 
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) - A 1990 law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in several areas, including employment, transportation, public accommodations, communications, and access to state and local government programs and services. 
  • Captioning – Descriptive transcription of all significant audio content in presentations, video, and other visual formats. 
  • Disability inclusion – The process of creating a workplace where all individuals are employed and full members of the work community. 
  • Disclosure – When an employee with a disability shares information about their disability with others in their workplace. 
  • Discrimination – Refers to the difference in treatment, or less favorable treatment, on the basis of identity, such as disability, race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. 
  • Identity-first language – Describes how individuals with disabilities prefer to refer to themselves. 
    • Ex: Someone who sees their disability as an important part of their identity may choose to refer to themselves as “a blind person.” Only refer to someone this way if you know that’s their preference. Otherwise, use person-first language. 
  • Natural supports – Refer to social supports, particularly in the workplace, which already exist such as mentoring, feedback on job performance, and professional relationships. 
  • Person-first language – Describes how individuals with disabilities prefer to refer to themselves. 
    • Ex: Unless a person specifically prefers identity-first language, always use person-first language to refer to them, such as “a person who is blind.” 
  • Physical accessibility - A form of accessibility that focuses on making physical spaces, such as elevators, reserved parking spots, and restroom stalls, accessible to people who use wheelchairs or who have other physical impairments. 
  • Reasonable accommodation – Refers to an adjustment or modification to a job or work environment that allows an individual with a disability to perform their job adequately and enjoy benefits equal to employees who do not have a disability. 
  • Self-identification – An employee telling their employer that they have or ever had a disability. 
  • Universal design – The process of creating objects or environments such as workplaces that can be used by the widest possible range of people. 
  • Workplace flexibility – Adjustments to where, when, and how and employee works to better accommodate their personal needs. 
    • Ex: Flexible hours, working remotely. 

Terms used to describe disability and neurodiversity: 

  • Aphasia - A brain-based disorder that can affect language learning, speaking, listening, comprehension, reading and/or writing. 
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) - A developmental disorder characterized by significant difficulty with social interactions and communication. Often referred to as autism or ASD, it includes symptoms such as poor eye contact, repetitive body movements, and difficulty adapting to social situations and responding to sensory input such as certain tastes or textures. 
  • Blindness - Total blindness refers to not being able to see anything at all. 
  • Deafness - Hearing loss so severe that there’s little or no functional hearing, even when sound is amplified. 
  • Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD) - People with DCD may have difficulty planning and performing tasks that require fine motor skills, such as writing, tying shoelaces, or using buttons or zippers; sometimes called dyspraxia. 
  • Developmental disability - A severe, long-term disability due to an impairment in a physical, learning, language, or behavior area. It can affect cognitive ability, physical functioning, or both. 
  • Disability - Defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity, a record of such an impairment, or being regarded as having such an impairment. A disability can be visible or invisible. 
  • Dyscalculia - A specific learning disability in math. Some people with dyscalculia have difficulty performing calculations and solving problems. Others struggle with basic math operations like multiplication and division. 
  • Dysgraphia - A specific learning disability in writing. People with dysgraphia struggle with handwriting, typing, and spelling. Some people have difficulty with other aspects of writing, like grammar, punctuation, and organizing and expressing their ideas in writing. 
  • Dyslexia - A specific learning disability in reading. People with dyslexia have trouble reading accurately and fluently. They may also have trouble with reading comprehension, spelling, and writing. 
  • Dysphraxia - Sometimes called developmental coordination disorder. People with dyspraxia may have difficulty planning and performing tasks that require fine motor skills, such as writing, tying shoelaces, or using buttons or zippers. 
  • Hard of hearing - Hearing loss where there may be enough residual hearing that a device like a hearing aid provides enough assistance for the person to process speech. 
  • Hearing loss - A general term that describes a broad range of hearing function, including deaf or hard of hearing. It’s the total or partial inability to hear sounds and can affect one or both ears. 
  • Intellectual disability - A disability characterized by limitations in a person’s ability to learn at an expected level. A person with an intellectual disability may process information more slowly and have difficulty with abstract concepts and everyday behaviors and activities. Often referred to as a cognitive disability. 
  • Invisible disability - A disability that is not immediately apparent; sometimes called a hidden disability. 
  • Learning disability - A condition that results in learning challenges or difficulties in particular skill areas, such as reading or math. People with learning disabilities receive, store, process, retrieve, or communicate certain information in different and less-effective ways. Often referred to as LD, these difficulties are not connected to intelligence and are not caused by problems with hearing or vision or by lack of educational opportunity. 
  • Low vision - Permanently reduced and uncorrectable vision loss that interferes with daily activities. 
  • Neurodiversity - The idea that brain differences such as autism are normal variations in the human population, rather than deficits or disorders; neurodiversity can also refer to embracing such differences. 
  • Physical disability - A wide range of conditions, both visible and invisible, that affect a person’s movement. Also referred to as a mobility challenge. 
  • Sensory processing issues - Difficulties in organizing information from the senses, such as over- or under-responding to sights, sounds, smells, touch, and sensory input related to balance and movement; often co-occurs with ADHD or autism. 
  • Visual impairment - A general term that describes a broad range of visual function, from low vision through total blindness. 

(These terms are sourced from The Understood Team's Disability Inclusion Glossary. For more information, and more workplace terms which were not included here, view the link above).


Resource Pages

July 26th is National Disability Independence Day

National Disability Independence Day commemorates the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law on July 26, 1990.

The Capitol Crawl

On March 13, 1990, what became known as the “Capitol Crawl” started when over 1,000 people marched to the U.S. Capitol building to demand that Congress pass the Americans with Disabilities Act. As part of their demonstration, around 60 people “cast aside their wheelchairs and other mobility aids and crawled up the Capitol steps” (History).  

The event made clear for many people the accessibility issues that disabled people face. Of the event, Lennard J. Davis, a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago and author of Enabling Acts: The Hidden Story of How the Americans with Disabilities Act Gave the Largest U.S. Minority Its Rights, said “It’s a dramatic event. You can’t watch that without being well aware of the difficulties of people with disabilities when they confront obstacles like stairs” (History). 

The Capitol Crawl is an important part of minority and disability history. Aimi Hamraie, professor at Vanderbilt University and author of Building Access: Universal Design and the Politics of Disability, stated that

“it is part of a history and a lineage of disability activists doing protest in public space that use disability, including disabled bodies and assistive technologies, to show that the built environment is inaccessible” (History). 

What Comes Next? 

Disability activism isn’t over. There are many improvements that can be made to embrace “accessibility, inclusion, and belonging” (Inclusion Hub). Digital inclusion and accessibility are an important part of ADA compliance.  

To learn more, check out the ADA National Network’s success stories