Representation—as a form of cultural knowledge, as a mode of advocacy, as the right to be present in national and global conversations—is central to the work of disability studies scholars and disability rights activists. Both aesthetic and political practices of representation come into play in the debates that form around moments of cultural and geopolitical crisis. Attention to the human and civil rights of people with disabilities informs and alters these debates, foregrounding their moral and ethical dimensions and challenging us to ask new questions.
How does the ADA model human rights, civil rights? What are the consequences of its passage into law? How does it shape or influence other rights movements globally? What is progressive about the law, what limiting? What can we learn from other country-specific and international instruments that protect the rights of people with disabilities?
How is disability represented and acknowledged in visual culture? How do people with disabilities access and interpret this culture? What role do literature, the visual arts, and other forms of media play in representing people with disabilities as producers of knowledge and culture rather than objects of study and medical intervention?
What is the relationship between poverty and disability? How can disability rights be taken into account in poverty reduction and economic development initiatives? How can people with disabilities be active in these initiatives?
What happens to bodies in war and other disasters? What is the cost--psychologically, emotionally, socially, and economically--of the production of disability on this scale? Who survives? How do we take into account the rights of people with disabilities in rebuilding psychic, social, and architectural structures after war or natural disaster?
How can decision-making at the beginning of life and the end of life take into account the rights of people with disabilities? What are the implications of genetic testing for people with disabilities? How can debates about the human genome project and new technologies such as the cochlear implant more effectively incorporate the perspectives of those with disabilities?