Celebrate Diversity and Amplify the Voices of Authors With Disabilities by Reading and Recommending These Books

By Chris Olsen

Disability Pride Month takes place every July and commemorates the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) more than three decades ago. This landmark legislation prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities as it relates to employment, transportation, public accommodations and communications.

While the ADA has played a crucial role in promoting accessibility and equality, full inclusion has not yet been realized. Disability Pride Month is a time to celebrate the achievements of individuals with disabilities, while also continuing to advocate for their rights, visibility and representation. Together we can create a more inclusive society where everyone can thrive.

Elevating Authors With Disabilities

Literature is a powerful tool for shaping beliefs, fostering empathy and promoting social change. Books offer a window into different experiences, allowing readers to connect with and understand lives that may be different from their own. For the disabled community, literature serves as a platform to share their challenges, triumphs and unique perspectives.

One author whose writing and work significantly influenced disability rights and culture is activist Judith Heumann. Judith died in 2023 at age 75, after a lifetime advocating for the disabled community. Her intimate and irreverent memoir, “Being Heumann,” shares her powerful journey of fighting not just to belong in a world that wasn’t built for everyone, but to be included, accepted and respected.

Dr. Sami Schalk is a fat, Black, queer, disabled femme and a pleasure activist. Her book, “Black Disability Politics,” demonstrates how Black people have played a significant role in disability justice and liberation since the 1970s. Because the language and approach of Black activists differ from the mainstream white-dominant disability rights movement, this work has not been recognized. As an educator and activist, Dr. Schalk is working to change that.

In celebration of Disability Pride Month, consider reading and recommending these books by authors with disabilities:

“Being Heumann” by Judith Heumann

“Black Disability Politics” by Sami Schalk

“A Girl Beyond Closed Doors” by Jessica Taylor-Bearman

“Hear and Beyond” by Shari Eberts and Gael Hannan

“How to Lose Everything” by Christa Couture

“In the Hello and in the Goodbye” by Melissa Whitney

“Mother Sea” by Lorraine Wilson

“The Necessity of Rain” by Sarah Chorn

“Pace Yourself” by Amy Arthur

“Some of Us Just Fall” by Polly Atkin

“Stutterer Interrupted” by Nina G.

“Tressing Motions at the Edge of Mistakes” by Imane Boukaila

What books by authors with disabilities would you add to this list? Drop me a line at chris@publishherpress.com.

Photo credit: Judith Heumann

About the Author

Chris Olsen is a broadcast media veteran turned communications consultant, educator and the author of “Whyography: Building a Brand Fueled by Purpose.” The founder of Publish Her and Publish Her Story, Chris has helped thousands of women tell their stories and publish their books.

About Publish Her

Publish Her is a female-founded publisher dedicated to elevating the words, writing and stories of women. We are passionate about amplifying the voices of women of color, women with disabilities and members of the LGBTQ+ community. We aim to make publishing an attainable, exciting and collaborative process for all.