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Disability Reference Resources

A Disability Justice Reference – April 2024

Prepared by Sharon Aylsworth* with input from friends. A work in progress.

  1. Canadian statistics on disability. Statistics Canada conducted Surveys on Disability (CSD) in 2017 and 2022. The CSD is based on a social model of disabilities. The premise of the social model is that disability is the result of the interaction between a person’s functional limitations and barriers in the environment, including social and physical barriers that make it harder to function day-to-day. (Dec 1, 2023. From Canadian Survey on Disability, 2022: Concepts and Methods Guide.)

Teaser: Numerically, the top four categories of disability in 2017 were pain-related, flexibility, mobility and mental health. In 2017, 22% of Canadians 15 and older identified as having at least one disability. In 2022, the number was 27%.

This data does not include those living in congregate settings or persons on reserve. More detail from the 2022 survey is expected in late May 2024 during Disability week. The information included here is a preliminary explanation of the differences between the 2017 and 2022 surveys.


  1. Equality and accessibility for persons with disabilities are included in many Canadian laws. These include the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Accessible Canada Act, Canadian Disability Benefit Act (2023) (which will provide support for low-income Canadians with disabilities) and various provincial laws and legislation. Canada is a signatory of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. https://www.un.org/development/desa/disabilities/convention-on-the-rights-of-persons-with-disabilities/committee-on-the-rights-of-persons-with-disabilities-3.html#:~:text=The%20Committee%20on%20the%20Rights,or%20three%20sessions%20per%20year.

For an overview of accessibility laws in Canada start with:


  1. References:
    1. Possible book studies
      1. Disability Justice in the Church by a white disabled minister.

Kenny, Amy. My Body is Not a Prayer Request. Brazos Press, 2022.

  1. Black scholar engages disability as a political issue deeply tied to race and racism.

Schalk, Sami. Black Disability Politics, Duke University Press, 2022.

  1. General disability reference
    1. ‘Key writings on disability by thinkers from all periods of Christian history.’ Brock, Brian and Swinton, John ed. Disability in the Christian Tradition, a Reader, Wm. B. Erdmans Publishing Co., 2012.
    2. A classic, this book is considered the beginning of disability theology by many. Includes exploration of the meaning of Jesus’ disability after resurrection.

Eisland, Nancy. The Disabled God: Toward a Liberation Theology of Disabiity. Nashville: Abingdon, 1994.

  • Stories of disabled individuals who have survived and thrived in turbulent times.

Etmanski, Al. The Power of Disability: 10 Lessons for Surviving, Thriving, and Changing the World. Barrett-Koehler Publishers, 2020.

  1. Collection of essays about disability justice from those living on multiple margins and creating sustainable communities.

Piepzna-Samarasinha, Leah Lakshmi. Care Work: Dreaming of Disability Justice. Arsenal Pulp Press, 4th printing 2019 Piepzna-Samarasinha.

  1. Theological reflection on the gift of time. Insights particularly related to those with dementia or other neurological damage

Swinton, John. Becoming Friends of Time. Waco: Baylor University Press, 2018.

  1. Collection of Essays exploring rich complexity and intersectionality of the modern disabled experience and voice.



  1. Journals and Journal Articles
    1. Panton, Amy and Spies, Miriam, Canadian Journal of Theology, Mental Health & Disability. https://jps.library.utoronto.ca/index.php/cjtmhd
    2. Samuels, Ellen. “Six Ways of Looking at Crip Time.” Disability Studies 37, no. 3 (2017), https://dsq-sds.org/article/view/5824/4684


  1. United Church References
    1. Building Accessibility Audit https://unitedchurch.ca/sites/default/files/accessibility-audit.pdf
    2. ‘The Magnificat upholds the marginalized. It provides a space in this case for persons with disabilities to pronounce themselves as “blessed.”’

I Am Called Blessed – Disability Justice in The United Church of Canada https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=693094931099092

  • Theologies of Disabilities, see Record of Proceedings of the 42nd General Council 2015, Corner Brook Nfld. P604.
  1. Disability, Accessibility and Inclusion website https://united-church.ca/community-and-faith/being-community/disability-accessibility-and-inclusion#:~:text=The%20United%20Church%20is%20committed,and%20exploring%20theologies%20of%20disabilities.


  1. Podcasts/Videos
    1. Stigma, Ableism, Spoons and more——:
      1. United Nations Ableism video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E-gMMJHT2o4
      2. What is the impact of Stigma? By SANE Australia https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qIZpSB6HNu4
      3. Disability/Visibility podcast – Wong, Alice


  1. Stella Young: I’m not your inspiration, thank you very much…https://www.ted.com/talks/stella_young_i_m_not_your_inspiration_thank_you_very_much/transcript\
  2. The Mad and Crip Theology Podcast (from Canadian Journal of Theology, Mental Health and Disability) Panton, Amy and Spies, Miriam.


  1. Disability and Energy – Spoons, https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/spoon-theory-taking-a-sitting-stand-1.6221706


  1. Other Connections to Explore
    1. Indigenous Disability Awareness Month, Canadian since 2015


World Institute on Disability. Feb. 2023. Why Black disabled history matters.


  1. Disabled, Asian American, and Proud. Psychology Today, July 27, 2022

(Disability Pride Month – July)


  • Indigenous Disability Canada/British Columbia Aboriginal Network on Disability S5Society IDC/BCANDS.


  1. Asian Americans with Disabilities Initiative.


  1. ‘Puar explores the concept of “debility” – bodily injury and social exclusion brought on by economic and political factors – to control populations. The relationship between Israel and Palestine is explored but the book recommended by Indigenous friend is similar to his beliefs about colonial power and disability. 

Puar, Jasbir K. The Right to Maim: Debility/Capacity/Disability. Duke University Press, 2017.

  1. Jewish disabled man writes about his visit to Germany. He explores the Nazi treatment of disabled people and sees some parallels in the US today.

Fries, Kenny. The Nazi’s First Victims Were The Disabled. Opinion: New York Times, Sept 13, 2017.


  1. Disability without Poverty. This group has been seeking to assist the ending of legislated poverty for many people.



  1. Hymns to Reconsider with a Disability Justice Lens
  1. VU 326 – O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGUOl0AKgGQ
  2. MV 128 – When They Heard that Jesus Was Coming https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y7H-oqzIv_0


  1. Scripture to Ponder with a Disability Justice Lens
  1. Jacob wrestles with God and dislocates his hip. Genesis 32:22-32
  2. Moses’ speech impediment doesn’t stop God from calling him. Exodus 4:10-12
  • Mephibosheth, disabled son of Jonathan, was adopted by King David. 2 Samuel 4:4
  1. Bartimaeus, blind and a beggar, asks Jesus to heal him. Mark 10:46-52


*Sharon Aylsworth is a White settler, lay, cisgendered woman who was diagnosed with a degenerative disease in 1998 and has been a wheelchair user for over 15 years. Beginning with a reflection on life as a disabled person in the United Church at The Gathering Together of Persons with Disabilities and their Allies in 2013, she has learned about and reflected on ableism and disability for over 10 years. She has been a faithful disabled person and presence in the church, undertaking various leadership roles, serving on executives in her local church, presbytery and conference and national church. Most recently she served on the General Council 43 Executive, 2018-2022.

Throughout this time, she has faced her own learned internalized ableism while experiencing the ableism of other people and institutions as an unavoidable part of lived experience as a visibly disabled person. Within the church, she has considered the ongoing disability advocacy of presence as a part of her journey. She has been a constant member of the United Church disability network, advocated for and contributed to the creation of an accessibility building audit template, contributed to the theologies of disabilities report, and recently worked with others to provide expert input to the development of training for General Council Office. The United Church Pension Plan, of which she is a board member, is exploring ways to include disability within its Responsible Investing program.

“Within the last few years, a leader in the national church said that they didn’t see me as disabled. It was meant as a complement, but I knew that it meant they didn’t see me or my life at all. “

It is with pleasure that she offers this disability justice reference package.