Law and Disability Conference

Exploring Law, Disability and the Challenge of Equality in Canada and the United States

Date:  Friday, December 5, 2014 (full-day) 
Location: Berkeley Law
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Hosted by:

  • Berkeley Law, University of California, Berkeley
  • Canadian Studies Program, University of California, Berkeley
  • Center for the Study of Law and Society (CSLS), Berkeley Law, University of California, Berkeley
  • Disability Studies Cluster and the Diversity and Democracy Cluster of the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society, University of California, Berkeley
  • University of Windsor Faculty of Law, Canada

Symposium Convener: 
Dr. Laverne Jacobs, Fulbright Visiting Research Chair, Canadian Studies & Visiting Scholar, CSLS UC Berkeley & Associate Professor of Law, University of Windsor, Canada

Symposium Planning Committee:

  • Laverne Jacobs, Fulbright Visiting Research Chair, Canadian Studies & Visiting Scholar, CSLS
  • Susan Schweik, Professor of English & Associate Dean of Arts and Humanities
  • Irene Bloemraad, Associate Professor of Sociology & Thomas Garden Barnes Chair of Canadian Studies 
  • Rosann Greenspan, Executive Director, Center for the Study of Law and Society


Rights of equality for persons with disabilities have long held the imagination of those aiming to defeat disability discrimination.  During the almost 25 years since the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was passed, disability advocates in North America have pushed for the development of additional legal tools such as accessibility standards legislation in Canadian provinces, the continued evolution of domestic civil rights and human rights, and the reception of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  Yet, the struggle continues.

This symposium brings together scholars interested in the field of law to discuss the achievements and the challenges that continue to face persons with disabilities in their social struggle for equality in each of Canada and the US.  A relatively new field, disability legal studies is an inherently interdisciplinary one that challenges us to consider the “disability angles” of the law and the real lived experiences of persons with disabilities (Kanter, 2011).  Questions such as how the law does and should regulate the lives of persons with disabilities, how persons with disabilities can induce change in policy and legislation, and the ways in which the experiences of persons with disabilities are reflected in the law will be explored.  In this symposium, scholars will present research on a variety of issues relating to disability discrimination but which all raise a clarion call for a crisper theoretical and practical engagement between law, persons with disabilities, and society in order to effect social change.   The symposium will showcase and interrogate methods, theoretical and practical perspectives, and research findings in the pursuit of equality through disability legal studies research in the United States and Canada. The papers will be published in a special issue of the Windsor Yearbook of Access to Justice in 2015, coinciding with the 25 year anniversary of the ADA.