As a result of this 90-minute workshop, participants should be able to:
- Define the social model of disability and how it applies to their present setting
- Describe the importance of disability justice in a system, for students/patients/providers/admin (i.e. everyone)
- Recognize basic spiritual needs in an intersectional lens with a disability justice starting point
- Assess spiritual support needs in a setting when access and accommodations are not prioritized
National Joint ACPE/APC Annual Conference May 10-12, 2022
Presenter: Rev. Erika Sanborne, MA, MDiv, PhD Candidate (Sociology @UMN)
For Those Attending the Live Session on Tues. May 10, 2022
Welcome! When you arrive on May 10 for the live session, please do what you need to do to be comfortable, bring whomever you wish to join you, and if you are able to TYPE, be prepared to type a few brief responses into the “live Q&A” area throughout the session, or to have someone with you who can type, if you would like to participate.
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For Everyone, Including Those Not Attending the Live Session
For academics looking for my current work
Please note that this is not your ordinary conference presentation, for which the target audience is other researchers. This joint national conference is largely attended by practitioners – i.e., chaplains and allied healthcare professionals, and those who train and supervise them. This session was billed as a “workshop” and intended to educate providers on disability justice. It’s not a research talk. If you’re looking for my current research, connect with me at the University of Minnesota.
Social Model of Disability
Disability is inherent to the social world. Disability is not inherent to a person. People have differences and impairments that may or may not result in disability depending on their interactions with the social world, where physical and attitudinal barriers produce disability.
Suppose that you are very myopic and you live in the United States today, where you can acquire corrective lenses or eyeglasses. If you are able to do the things you need to do wearing those lenses, then you would not be disabled by myopia in your present social context, even with such visual impairment. Imagine if you lived in a time and place, or in a part of the world today without access to healthcare or eyeglasses. Then, the same visual impairment in the context of a society that does not provide access may lead to disbility, wherein perhaps you cannot see well enough to shepherd or farm or sew or cook. There, you may be disabled whereas here in the U.S. today with your eyeglasses, you are not disabled. Notice that the difference between your being disabled and your not being disabled has nothing to do with your body and everything to do with your interactions with the social world.
Disability is not internal to people’s biology but rather to the social systems in which people may live, work, play, study, heal, and pray.
This is known as the social model of disability. It’s grounded in a definition of disability established in the 1970s by disability justice scholars, born out of the Black Civil Rights movement in the U.S., and institutionalized by the United Nations in 2006, with the agreement of 168 member states, and it is the central topic of Part 1 of this workshop, which is all about reframing what we think is the problem. And this is really important because that will determine what we think needs to change in order to make things better.
Links to More Info
Disability justice always acknowledges power, privilege, and access. Disability rights and disability justice are night and day.
The Disability Justice Framework (Patty Berne, Mia Mingus, Stacey Milbern) is useful and has ten principles:
2. leadership of those most impacted
3. anti-capitalist politics
4. cross-movement solidarity
5. recognizing wholeness
7. commitment to cross-disability solidarity
9. collective access
10. collective liberation
I think the first question of disability justice is asking yourself this question: Who is not here? That question is about access, and the honest answers are about power and privilege, and those answers will generate your “to do list” if you want it.
Spiritual Needs in an Intersectional Lens
If I were to categorize causes of spiritual pain, broadly, I come up with three wide containers: generally-expected stressors, critical incidents or violence, and oppression. I think our established chaplain assessments and approaches can work well for the first two categories. In one way or another, we listen, validate, find out more, respect the patient’s own meaning making systems or faith traditions, and figure out how we can help them to best connect with some of those resources in order to cope with their crisis, change or loss. And we might do some extra care and referrals for the trauama as needed.
When the cause of spiritual suffering is oppression, which is always intersectional, I suggest that it’s different. Our ordinary approaches to spiritual care and assessment need to be revisited. Oppression is different. And ableism is oppression that privileges the protection and care of certain bodyminds while excluding and deprioritizing other bodyminds. A disability justice perspective reminds us that multiply marginalized people are the most oppressed, and the most in need of access, solidarity and care.
Can you assess spiritual needs using your existing assessments when the cause of spiritual distress is oppression, and they are not lacking any known spiritual resources? I suggest that what such a person needs for their spiritual well-being is justice, and anything less is just window dressing in front of the biggest elephant that can possibly fit in a room.
When Access and Accommodations are not Prioritized
Well, I’m not aware of any educational and healthcare settings that do prioritize access. Some places try to provide accommodations, which is a lower standard as accommodations tend to refer to the legal things required and sometimes enforced due to ADA and related policy. In general, in most places, access is not prioritized and assessing spiritual support needs is about justice which is access which is solidarity.
It’s only within a more Western, capitalistic (i.e. production-oriented) ableist social order that people’s needs even get characterized as burdens rather than as opportunities for generative things! (Read more from Mia Mingus + access is love.) And, you know, with accessibility, that’s spiritual care because we are now talking about interdependence and our relatedness.
Why does nobody question the expense of purchasing all those chairs in every cafeteria? If you’ve never questioned that expense, or thought of cafeteria chairs in this way, that’s because of ableist social norms that lead you to believe that certain bodyminds unequivocally deserve care and support, and certain other bodyminds are a burden and a nuisance, and something we can ignore and certainly do not have to address in our budget. We. Have. All. Been. Socialized. to privilege nondisabled experiences and needs. Disability justice challenges our socialization.
As spiritual care providers and educators, you have an important role in the well-being of many people. Don’t accept ableism. Always ask who isn’t here and then respond to what you learn about yourselves. And insist that your setting become a place that does prioritize access, where everyone deserves to be cared for, because of who they are, not in spite of it.
Links to More Info
These lists are incomplete, as is this website, all of which is intended as a curated list of things to serve as starting points for your learning.
A Word on Language
I use identity-centered language (i.e. disabled people), which is common but not universally preferred among disabled people, disability justice advocates and critical disability scholars. The main alternative option is person-centered language (i.e. persons with disabilities). I also use the term crip favorably, comfortably, and proudly, as an intentional act of reclamation as those of us who prefer identity-centered language tend to do. While my strong preference for identity-centered language is to emphasize the social construction of disability, I also respect the choices of those who prefer person-centered phrasing for themselves. As with all identifications, practitioners will do best to ask patients/clients/students their preference.
Don’t Use These Words
when expressing your alarm or dissatisfaction: that’s hysterical, crazy, lame, dumb, insane, or r-word; is blinded by ___, crippled by ___, or finds ___ maddening
when expressing your solidarity with a cause: I see you, I hear you, I walk with you, I stand with you
Curated Online Resource List
Select Sites and Blogs from some Disability Justice Leaders
Books Worth Reading
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Please keep in mind that most labor in the disability justice sphere is uncompensated, and if you should license my work I expect that you will do that. Because I want everyone to have access to it anyway, I’ve chosen to make it available for free for individuals to access without licensing. So if you do not want to pay the $60 fee to license my work and support my labor, then you cannot use my materials in a broadcast or group setting, but you can still send individuals to watch the video and read the website on their own. That’s why I kept it public without a paywall. I feel comfortable with this balance, and ask you to not steal my work and use it outside of the scope of this license, okay? With any questions, be in touch.