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Center for Interdisciplinary Law and Policy Studies
Disability, Narrative and the Law
February 16-17, 2006
On February 16-17, over 140 people gathered at The Ohio State University to attend Disability, Narrative and the Law, an interdisciplinary conference exploring the role of personal narrative in advancing disability rights in courts and in the arenas of advocacy, legislation and policy making. This unique, public, interdisciplinary conference brought together researchers in law and the humanities, students, practitioners and the local community.
- Thursday's Archived Webcast - Readings
- Friday's Archived Webcast - Session I | Session II | Keynote Address | Session III | Session IV
Organized collaboratively by the by The Ohio State University's Moritz College of Law Center for Interdisciplinary Law and Policy Studies, OSU Department of English, Institute for Collaborative Research and Public Humanities, and OSU ADA Coordinator's Office; with support from Ohio Statewide Independent Living Council and the Association on Higher Education And Disability, The American Association of People with Disabilities and Ability Magazine, the conference attracted Scholars from the University of Buffalo to Cal-Berkeley and from the University of Calgary to Emory University in Atlanta; in addition to representatives from national, state and local disability organizations.
Participants explored the balance between the highly individualized, personal experience of disability and the pragmatic demands of public policy for a common definition of disability. Thursday evening readings by authors with disabilities set the tone for the discussion of how the themes of autonomy and dependency, "normal" and "abnormal," innocence and fault, sameness and difference play out in both the experience of disability and in legal discussions about disability. The discussion continued on Fridaywith four panels (The Legal Practice of Narrative; How Law Mediates Between Personal and Cultural Narratives; Narrative and Argument; and Disability as a Human Phenomenon and as a Legal Category).
Tony Coelho, former Congressman and one of the principal authors of the Americans with Disabilities Act and current Chair of the Board of Directors of the Epilepsy Foundation delivered the keynote address; using his personal narrative to highlight how far disability rights have come and how far we still have to go.
Papers from Disability Narrative And The Law will appear in special issue of Narrative and a captioned video of the conference is being produced.
What is the role of personal narrative in effectively advancing the cause of disability rights, whether in individual cases or in arenas of legislation and policy making? This unique public interdisciplinary conference will draw together researchers from law and the humanities to explore how themes of autonomy and dependency, "normal" and "abnormal," innocence and fault, sameness and difference all play out in legal discussions about disability and in the self-understanding of persons with disabilities.
We will also feature outstanding practitioners to analyze how personal experience narratives concerned with disability bear on actual legal practice, how legal arguments get translated back into individuals' accounts of being disabled, and how tensions may arise between the highly individualized, personal experience of disability and the necessity of developing a pragmatic legal definition of disability under relevant statutory and case law.
The conference is being organized collaboratively by the Center for Interdisciplinary Law and Policy Studies at the Moritz College of Law, the Ohio State University Department of English, the Institute for Collaborative Research and Public Humanities, and the office of the OSU ADA Coordinator. It is supported also by grants from the Ohio Statewide Independent Living Council and the Association on Higher Education And Disability.
- Keynote: Hon. Tony Coelho, Chairman of the Board, The Epilepsy Foundation, and former Member, U.S. House of Representatives
- Chloë G. K. Atkins, Assistant Professor of Communication and Culture, University of Calgary
- Ellen Barton, Professor of English, Wayne State University
- G. Thomas Couser, Hofstra University
- Robert D. Dinerstein, Professor of Law, American University Washington College of Law
- Liz Emmens, Assistant Professor of Law, Columbia University School of Law
- David M. Engel, SUNY Distinguished Service Professor of Law, University of Buffalo Law School
- Martha A. Fineman, Robert Woodruff Professor of Law, Emory University School of Law
- Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in Women's Studies, Emory University
- Steven Kuusisto, Assistant Professor of English, The Ohio State University
- Paul Steven Miller, Professor of Law, University of Washington School of Law
- Frank Munger, Professor of Law, New York Law School
- Achim Nowak, author of Power Speaking: The Art of the Exceptional Public Speaker
- Ruth O'Brien, Professor of Government at John Jay College of Criminal Justice & Executive Officer of the Political Science Ph.D. & M.A. Program, The Graduate Center, City University of New York
- Mark Willis, Public Relations and Medical Research, Wright State University