Stories of Disabled Student Organizing Through Time: A Case Study

Dani Pryke (they/them)

(Sponsored by the UMD President’s Commission on Disability Issues)

2021 Disability Summit
April 14, 2021 – 9:40 AM-10:00 AM

Twitter: @pryke_d


Over the past year, the world has changed significantly. It is difficult to predict how current events and their consequences will shape the future of accessibility and disability justice. While the future is unknowable, reflection on past disability activism represents both hope and resilience in the face of uncertainty.

This lecture-style presentation will explore the history of Disabled student advocacy at one Canadian university, McMaster University. The presentation will be based on both archival research (40 years of both the local city newspaper, and the university student newspaper) and interviews of Disabled McMaster alumni identified through the archives regarding their activism work at McMaster.

In alignment with the themes of this conference, the purpose of this presentation is to highlight the importance of Disabled student advocacy over time. Grounded in a case study of one institution, the presentation will explore the connection between Disabled student advocacy and changes to university attitudes and teaching practices. It will discuss how intergenerational memory, connections among cohorts of disabled students, and critical engagement with local disability organizing histories are vital to propelling the disability justice movement forward.

Presentation (PPT)


Dani Pryke has been working on a number of projects related to Disability within post-secondary education. These include working as a co-investigator on a study about the history of disabled student organizing at McMaster University (Ontario, Canada), and participating in the organizing committee for two Disabled/Mad student zines. They hold a Bachelor of Science in Integrated Science, will be completing their Bachelor of Social Work this summer, and will start their Master’s in Social Work in the Fall of 2021, all at McMaster University. Outside of academics they are involved with Speqtrum Hamilton as a check-in staff and community event facilitator for 2S-LGBTQIA youth. Dani would like to acknowledge their piece is also part of a larger study under Dr. Alise de Bie, who should get credit as co-author, though Dani is the only presenter at the Summit.