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Donia Human Rights Center Panel | A Discussion on Disability Justice, Human Rights, and the Politics of Space

Crystal Lee, Lydia X. Z. Brown, Eman Rimawi-Doster, Laura Guidry-Grimes
Wednesday, November 15, 2023
4:00-5:30 PM
Room 110 Weiser Hall Map
Moderator: Robert Adams, Associate Professor of Architecture at Taubman School of Architecture and Urban Planning, Director of University of Michigan Initiative on Disability Studies, Associate Professor of Art and Design at Stamps School of Art and Design.

This in-person event is free and open to the public but registration is required if you intend to participate virtually. Once you’ve registered, the joining information will be sent to your email.

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Historically, disability studies is anchored to the humanities, which generates a tremendous volume of discourse on disability through activism and advocacy, creative practice, and justice-informed frameworks. However, within the academy and society at large, perceptions, perspectives, and approaches to disability are more volatile. Physicians tend to understand disability as a therapeutic object to be diagnosed, ameliorated, and cured. Engineers engage disability as a problem to be solved through technical means. Artists and designers work through disability to motivate a range of creative practices. Architects and urbanists leverage disability narratives around mobility and accessibility but often fail to accede to the demands of disabled people in terms of equity and inclusion in public life. Everyone appears well-intentioned but often intention becomes oppressive, pathologizing, and isolating. A civil understanding of human rights remains contested.This panel is convening as a form of repair across disciplinary divides; in order, hopefully, to foster greater connection and, perhaps empathy in the process of our collective work.

Crystal Lee is an assistant professor in computational media and design at MIT with a joint appointment in the Schwarzman College of Computing and Comparative Media Studies / Writing. She works broadly on research related to ethical tech, social media, data visualization, and disability. This research has been supported by fellowships from the National Science Foundation, Social Science Research Council, and the MIT Programs for Digital Humanities. She is also a faculty associate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, where she co-leads the Ethical Tech Working Group, and a senior fellow at Mozilla. She graduated with high honors from Stanford University and completed her PhD at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Lydia X. Z. Brown is a queer, disabled, and East Asian advocate, organizer, attorney, strategist, and writer. They are the Director of Public Policy at the National Disability Institute, which works to advance economic opportunity and freedom for people with disabilities. Lydia is also the founding Executive Director of the Autistic People of Color Fund, which advocates for disability, racial, and economic justice with a focus on building generative economies and just transition while providing mutual aid, peer support, and community-funded reparations. They bring nearly 15 years of experience as a committed advocate, community organizer, and policy expert at the nexus of disability rights and disability justice. Lydia has spoken, facilitated, and consulted internationally and throughout the U.S. on a range of topics related to disability rights and disability justice, especially at the intersections of race, class, gender, and sexuality, and has published in numerous scholarly and community publications. Their work addresses the deep interconnections between ableism and other forms of systemic discrimination, marginalization, and oppression, and has often focused on interpersonal, state, and corporate violence, deprivation, and exploitation targeting disabled people at the margins of the margins. Lydia holds a lecturer appointment in the Women's and Gender Studies Program and the Disability Studies Program at Georgetown University, as well as serving as Self-Advocacy Discipline Coordinator for the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities Fellowship program at the Georgetown University Medical Center. They are also an adjunct professorial lecturer in American Studies in the Department of Critical Race, Gender, and Culture Studies at American University. Lydia serves as Vice Chair and Past President of the Disability Rights Bar Association and Disability Justice Committee representative on the National Lawyers Guild board. They are currently creating Disability Justice Wisdom Tarot. Lydia was formerly Policy Counsel for Privacy & Data at the Center for Democracy & Technology, focused on algorithmic discrimination and disability; and Director of Policy, Advocacy, & External Affairs at the Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network. They are a former member of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Disability Rights, visiting faculty at Tufts University, and chairperson of the Massachusetts Developmental Disabilities Council.

Eman Rimawi-Doster is a Black and Palestinian woman, born and raised in NYC. For 26 years, she’s been organizing around diversity, equity, and inclusion in disenfranchised communities, while using art, writing, fashion, creativity, and organizing to bring the conversation to the community. She learned about taking action and having integrity from her father. She has made it her life’s mission to change the things that need a push in a more inclusive direction. She is committed to educating people on the interconnectedness of disability within multiple communities.

Laura Guidry-Grimes, PhD, HEC-C is Associate Staff Bioethicist at Cleveland Clinic with faculty appointments in the Department of Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine and in the Department of Bioethics at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. She has worked as a clinical ethicist for hospital systems since 2015, combining bedside consultation with policy development and ethics education. She received her PhD in philosophy from Georgetown University in 2017. Her research focuses on disability bioethics, psychiatric ethics, and the nature of vulnerability in clinical contexts. She regularly presents at national and international conferences and publishes in prominent bioethics journals. She co-authored Basics of Bioethics, Fourth Edition with Robert M. Veatch (Routledge, 2020). In 2020, she contributed to numerous projects and educational initiatives related to COVID-19, including those for her institution and national guidelines through the Hastings Center.

Robert Adams [MArch, SCI-Arc] is an Associate Professor of Architecture at Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, with faculty appointments in the Stamps School of Art & Design and Digital Studies Institute. Additionally, Robert directs the University of Michigan Initiative on Disability Studies. Robert’s research focuses on the interplay between architecture and responsive environments, disability culture, and health infrastructure. His design work prototypes spatial strategies to de-stress the workplace by enhancing a sense of well-being, social connection, and mindfulness. Robert co-founded B.A.S.E. Beijing Architecture Studio Enterprise in 2005, and has extensive experience working in China where he consults with disability rights organizations, and collaborates with other artists and designers. Adams+Gilpin Design Studio was established in Los Angeles in 1996 with his partner Dawn Gilpin, who is also a faculty member in architecture at Taubman College. A+GDS is currently integrating LiDAR 3D scanning technology to document significant works of architecture, indigenous sites, and industrial landscapes in the United States and Mexico that make cultural artifacts accessible to a broader audience through immersive extended reality narratives. Robert identifies as disabled.

This event is cosponsored by the Digital Accessible Futures (AF) Lab.

If there is anything we can do to make this event accessible to you, please contact us at Please be aware that advance notice is necessary as some accommodations may require more time for the university to arrange.
Building: Weiser Hall
Event Type: Lecture / Discussion
Tags: human rights, Justice
Source: Happening @ Michigan from Donia Human Rights Center, International Institute, University of Michigan Initiative on Disability Studies, Digital Studies Institute, Digital Accessible Futures Lab