Since 1990, the National Endowment for the Humanities has joined Americans in celebrating Disability Pride Month each July, recognizing the milestone passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Through NEH-funded projects, the agency strives to empower disabled Americans and support the preservation, and sharing, of disability history and experience.
So far in 2022, NEH has funded a variety of projects documenting global disability history and representation in media, expanding access to the humanities with assistive technology, and training educators to more effectively understand and teach disability studies and history:
- Six scholars began work on original books or peer reviewed articles
- Two assistive technology programs were launched in the United States and United Kingdom
- 55 professors, librarians, K–12 teachers, and graduate students will have participated in summer institutes between July and August 2022.
Explore this year’s funded projects and check out the Disability Pride Month virtual bookshelf, featuring NEH-funded projects like Oscar-nominated documentary Crip Camp, for streaming projects, published works, and more.
Each summer, NEH’s Division of Education Programs support workshops and institutes for K–12 educators and higher education faculty, providing unique opportunities to broaden and deepen their connection with humanities. In 2022, two NEH-funded summer institutes explored topics related to disability, training a combined 55 professors, librarians, K–12 teachers, and graduate students.
Disability and Identity in History, Literature, and Media Summer Institute
Wayne State University College of Education | August 1 – 5, 2022
In August 2022, 33 educators from across the country will participate in the NEH-supported “Disability and Identity in History, Literature, and Media” virtual summer institute at Wayne State University. Over the course of the five-day program, educators will learn from humanities scholars and create lesson plans for students to explore disability and identity in the classroom. In July 2021, 28 educators participated in the first iteration of the institute. Learn more about the 2021 summer institute via NEH for All.
Philosophical Perspectives on Care
Reed College | July 10 – 29, 2022
In July Reed College hosted an three-week NEH Summer Institute on “Philosophical Perspectives on Care” for 22 higher education faculty and graduate students. The institute will introduce participants to recent work on care and caregiving in Anglophone moral and political philosophy, while fostering the development of independent projects that are attentive to different perspectives on care and sensitive to complexities of age, disability, race, class and gender.
In 2022, three professors received summer stipends from the Division of Research Programs to work on original books, while an additional three scholars received NEH Fellowships to research and write books and peer-reviewed articles.
Wheelchairs, Crutches, and Disability in Victorian literature
Alexandra Rae Valint | University of Southern Mississippi
Valint received a summer stipend to conduct research on prosthetics and mobility aids in Victorian literature and their role in shaping disabled characters’ narratives, with a particular focus on Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol (1843) and Dinah Mulock Craik’s A Noble Life (1866).
Disability, Community Care, and Agency in Geel, Belgium
Lorraine Krall McCrary | Wabash College
Lorraine Krall McCrary, an assistant professor of political science, will travel to Geel, Belgium to interview people with intellectual disabilities and mental illness for a book project about the role of communities of care in an inclusive and just society.
The Forced Sterilization & "Euthanasia" of WWI Soldiers Under Nazi Eugenics Policies
Rebecca Ayako Bennette | Middlebury College
In June 2022, Rebecca Ayako Bennette used NEH-funding to conduct research on the Nazi treatment of disabled World War I veterans between 1933 and 1945, reviewing patient files in German archives, to examine the little-known fate of the targeted individuals.
Marking the Borders of Citizenship
Elizabeth Dale | University of Florida
Elizabeth Dale received an NEH Fellowship to complete her book, tentatively titled “Marking the Borders of Citizenship,” examining the intersection of intellectual disability and the rights of criminal defendants in twentieth-century America.
The Metaphysics of Intersectionality
Sarah J. Bernstein | Notre Dame University
Sarah J. Bernstein received an NEH Fellowship to support the writing of four peer-reviewed articles developing a comprehensive metaphysical theory of intersectional social categories, including race, gender, and disability, and intersectional oppression.
Eduardo Ledesma | University of Illinois
Eduardo Ledesma received an NEH Fellowship to write a book about visually impaired filmmakers and their use of digital media to explore the experience of disability and destabilize stereotypes about the blind. Bridging film and disability studies, Ledesma analyzes how new technologies are giving blind filmmakers access to the tools of filmmaking and how their innovations are transforming our experience of film and visual culture.
Assistive Technology Grants
Grants awarded through the NEH Division of Public Programs’ Public Humanities Projects grant program, and the NEH Office of Digital Humanities’ New Directions for Digital Scholarship in Cultural Institutions program, a joint initiative between the National Endowment for the Humanities and the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), have enabled development of two assistive technology programs in 2022.
‘I Don’t See What You Mean’
University of Michigan & University of Westminster
Teams from the University of Michigan and University of Westminster will collaborate to develop a one-day workshop using the Inclusive Co-Created Audio Description model to teach museum workers to understand and effectively utilize digital accessibility tools in their exhibits for blind, partially blind, and sighted audiences for equitable participation.
Storytellers and ADA Assistive Technology
Historic St. Mary’s City Commission
Historic St. Mary’s Commission received a grant from NEH’s Division of Public Programs to produce three interactive storyteller kiosks with closed caption and voice reading technology as part of the Maryland Heritage Interpretive Center orientation exhibit introducing visitors to the St. Mary’s City living history village and archaeology museum. The exhibition on the history and inhabitants of Maryland’s first English colony will include ADA assistive technology throughout to enhance accessibility for visitors who are blind or visually impaired, with visual descriptions that can be accessed through both on-site technologies or personal cellphone.