Disability Inclusion Resource Guide


In May 2021, The Kresge Foundation signed the Disability Inclusion Pledge signaling to the 61 million people with disabilities in the United States that we are committed to expanding inclusion beyond the minimum legal requirements. In addition, we are committed to deepening our collective understanding of disability justice and inclusion. This guide offers various resources for staff, board members, current and potential grantees, and other community partners to expand our knowledge of the disability justice movement. Through enhancing our collective awareness of disability, we can begin to embed an inclusive and justice-oriented framework into our culture.

Download: Disability and Inclusion Infographics

Best Practices

Language Guidelines Relating to People with Disabilities (2 pages)
Understanding the appropriate language to use when referring to disabilities is a key first step towards inclusivity. This language guide offers a concise overview of what terms are outdated/offensive and the appropriate terms to use instead. Additionally, this guide gives a brief explanation as to why certain terms or phrases are offensive.

Disability Etiquette 101 (2 pages)
This guide offers ten concrete tips on interacting with people with disabilities within your workplace. In particular, the guide offers specific tips for interacting with folks with low-vision, wheelchair-users, and D/deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals.

How to Make Accessible, Inclusive Self-Introductions (1 page)
This guide offers an example of how to introduce yourself in an accessible and inclusive way during group gatherings. An inclusive introduction includes your name, pronouns, land acknowledgement, physical description, and accessibility needs.

DDP Social Justice Access Toolkit (30 pages)
This comprehensive disability toolkit can answer any of your questions regarding inclusive language, event planning, technological accommodations, facilities accessibility, communication inclusivity, and social media accessibility. Additionally, the toolkit provides a general overview of disability justice and a resource bank of disability agencies.

Inclusive Philanthropy

Inclusive philanthropy promotes the idea that all people, especially those with marginalized identities, are welcomed and valued within the philanthropic sector. Disability touches every demographic category (gender, age, race, sexual orientation, religion, etc.) and impacts 1 in 4 adults in the United States. Despite its prevalence, disability is frequently excluded from conversations about diversity and inclusion. The following articles details the ways in which philanthropic organizations can improve their commitment to disability inclusion.

Disability in Philanthropy and Nonprofits (54 pages)
This article offers a qualitative analysis of the current landscape of disability inclusion within nonprofit and philanthropic organizations. Additionally, the study uplifts areas of strength and promotes opportunities for growth.

Six Questions You Can Ask to Support Disability Inclusion (2 pages)
This article offers six ways for foundations to encourage current and potential grantees to encourage disability inclusion within their organizations. Foundations are advised to ask grantees about their impact on the disability community, budget for accessible technologies, disability representation among staff and Board, 508-compliance, and a disability justice framework.

How Foundations Can Lead on Disability-Inclusive Grantmaking (5 pages)
This article follows the Open Society Foundation’s journey to actively support and recruit young, neurodiverse activists. They reflect on the changes made within their foundation to support people with disabilities, specifically through their outreach, application, and interview processes in addition to creating an accessible environment through a variety of accommodations.

Philanthropic Responses to Covid-19: 4 Disability Inclusive Approaches (2 pages)
This article outlines four ways in which philanthropy can promote disability inclusion in their response to the pandemic. These include flexibility, rapid response funds, accessible grant applications, and disability education.

Workplace Inclusion

Recruiting, Hiring, Training, and Promoting People with Disabilities (26 pages)
This article provides organizations with the resources they need to effectively support employees with disabilities through identifying federally funded resources that provide appropriate accommodations. Additionally, this guide offers best practices for recruiting, respecting, retaining, and promoting people with disabilities. Reasonable accommodations and the legal framework of the ADA are also discussed.

A Toolkit for Working with Deaf and Hard of Hearing Individuals (27 pages)
This article offers a framework for creating an accessible work environment for the 48 million D/deaf and hard of hearing folks in the United States. Inclusive language, communication, recruitment, interviews, training, technology, accessible meetings and events, personnel management, emergency systems, specific accommodations, and tax-credits are discussed. Additionally, information is provided about assessing current disability policies and implementing change.

Agency Resources

The following organizations promote disability inclusion and justice under a variety of lenses. The national disability advocacy agencies promote disability inclusion at a national level through community organizing and stigma fighting. The place-based advocacy organizations focus on promoting disability justice in specific areas of the country. The marginalized identities organizations promote disability inclusion for people of color and the LGBTQ+ community. The education organization supports students with disabilities through a grassroot movement to promote social justice within the school system. The health/environment organizations advocate for mental health services and climate resilience through a racial justice lens. The criminal justice organizations support people with disabilities within the criminal justice system. The arts and culture organizations support artists with disabilities. The philanthropy serving organizations assist foundations on their journey to becoming more disability inclusive.

National Disability Advocacy

RespectAbility: A disability-led nonprofit that works to create systemic change in how society views people with disabilities and advance policies that empower people with disabilities to have a better future. Their mission is to fight stigmas and advance opportunities so people with disabilities can fully participate in all aspects of community.

HEARD: A cross-disability abolitionist organization that unites across identities, communities, movements, and borders to end ableism, racism, capitalism, and all other forms of oppression and violence. HEARD supports disabled people and others who experience ableism by rejecting disability hierarchies and rigid definitions of disability, and by recognizing deaf people as part of disability communities. HEARD works to increase our collective capacity to identify, understand, and challenge oppression through grassroots advocacy, community organizing, peer support, mutual aid, education, and research. 

Place-Based Disability Advocacy

Detroit Disability Power: This organization’s mission is to leverage and build the political power of the disability community to ensure the full inclusion of people with disabilities in Metro Detroit through organizing to end disparities people with disabilities face in regard to housing, employment, education, transportation, healthcare and more.

Disability Lead: A network of people with disabilities who use our power to create an equitable and inclusive society by increasing civic engagement and diverse leadership in the Chicago region through developing and building a network of leaders with disabilities. 

Marginalized Identities

The Divas with Disabilities Project: A digital movement and community that is committed to increasing the participation and representation of Black and brown women and girls –DIVAS– Dynamic, Illuminating, Victorious, Achieving Sisters with visible disabilities. Our mission is to amplify DIVAS’ voices by providing a community and network that identifies opportunities for inclusion in mass media, and by partnering with organizations who have demonstrated a commitment to the inclusion of Black and brown women and girls with visible disabilities.

Sins Invalid: A disability justice-based performance project that incubates and celebrates artists with disabilities, centralizing artists of color and LGBTQ / gender-variant artists as communities who have been historically marginalized. Led by disabled people of color, Sins Invalid’s performance work explores the themes of sexuality, embodiment and the disabled body, developing provocative work where paradigms of “normal” and “sexy” are challenged, offering instead a vision of beauty and sexuality inclusive of all bodies and communities.

El Grupo VIDA: A network of Hispanic/Latino parents formed to provide mutual support for people with disabilities or special needs, their parents, family, and guardians.


Youth Celebrate Diversity: Youth Celebrate Diversity is building a grassroots movement of students and educators organizing locally, fighting for social justice, and making schools safe and inclusive for all identities. They organize student clubs for conflict resolution; disability justice; economic justice; gender justice and equity; immigrant and refugee youth; inclusive sports and activities; interfaith dialogue and cooperation; LGBTQ+ youth; mental wellness and healthy relationships; racial justice and anti-racism; student activism; and teaching for equality and social justice.


Project LETS: Builds peer support collectives, lead political education, develop new knowledge and language around mental distress, organize and advocate for the liberation of our community members globally, and create innovative, peer-led, alternatives to our current mental health system.

Health Justice Commons: Works at the intersections of racial, economic, gender, disability, and environmental justice to support marginalized communities to re-imagine and re-design healthcare and healing for our times. They provide health justice training and consultation, engage in healing justice movement building, and incubate community-driven solutions, which generate health abundance and alleviate the devastating health burden of social injustice and environmental racism.

Fireweed Collective: Offers mental health education and mutual aid through a Healing Justice lens. They help support the emotional wellness of all people and center the needs of those most marginalized by our society. Their work seeks to disrupt the harm of systems of abuse and oppression, often reproduced by the mental health system.

Criminal Justice

Chainless Change, Inc.: Offers programs and services that promote self-sufficiency and public safety. They serve those impacted by criminal justice involvement by offering basic resources, advocacy, peer support, mentorship, workforce development, housing, educational and vocational training, and scholarships. 

Arts and Culture

Visionaries of the Creative Arts: Established in response to the critical need of supporting the works of the D/deaf, hard-of-hearing, and hearing BIPOC artists all together locally and nationwide.  The Deaf/HH BIPOC community and its artists have been overlooked and underrepresented in mainstream and Deaf culture, a form of social injustice that VOCA stands to redress.

Philanthropy Serving

Borealis Philanthropy: The Borealis Philanthropy created the Disability Inclusion Fund (DIF) which is a $20 million, five-year fund to support U.S. groups run by and for people with disabilities to lead transformational change. The DIF is a first-of-its-kind fund; they are the only fund working on disability inclusion in philanthropy. The fund is supported by the President’s Council on Disability Inclusion in Philanthropy.

Disability & Philanthropy Forum: An emerging philanthropy-serving organization created by the Presidents’ Council on Disability Inclusion in Philanthropy. Central to the Forum’s mission is centering the perspectives of disabled people while engaging philanthropy on a collective journey to understand disability inclusion as key to advancing social justice.

Digital Resources 


What is Disability Justice?
This article highlights the difference between the Disability Rights Movement and the Disability Justice Movement. Disability rights is based in a single-issue identity, focusing exclusively on disability at the expense of other intersections of race, gender, sexuality, age, immigration status, religion, etc. In comparison, A disability justice framework understands that bodies are confined by ability, race, gender, sexuality, class, nation state, religion, and more, and we cannot separate them.

A Working Definition of Ableism (2022)
A system of assigning value to people’s bodies and minds based on societally constructed ideas of normalcy, productivity, desirability, intelligence, excellence, and fitness. These constructed ideas are deeply rooted in eugenics, anti-Blackness, misogyny, colonialism, imperialism, and capitalism. This systemic oppression that leads to people and society determining people’s value based on their culture, age, language, appearance, religion, birth or living place, “health/wellness”, and/or their ability to satisfactorily re/produce, “excel” and “behave.” You do not have to be disabled to experience ableism.

How our Communities Can Move Beyond Access to Wholeness
This article explains that many people think of disability as an individual flaw or problem, rather than a political experience or an encompassing a community full of rich histories, cultures and legacies. Though accessibility is concrete resistance to the isolation of people with disabilities, the liberation of the disabled community cannot be boiled down to logistics. Instead, we should question a culture that allows for the existence of inaccessibility. Ableism is connected to all systems of oppression; therefore, all justice movements should fight for disability liberation.

Forced Intimacy: An Ableist Norm
This article details the idea of “forced intimacy” that people with disabilities experience on a daily basis. This often takes the form of being expected to share personal information with able bodied people to get basic access. It also includes forced physical intimacy, especially for folks who need physical help that requires touching of their bodies. Able bodied people often treat access as a logistical interaction rather than a human interaction because they do not understand the inherent intimacy and vulnerability.

Can You Tell the Difference between Access and Accommodation?
This blog describes the difference between accessibility and accommodation. Accommodation shifts the burden to the person with disabilities by requiring them to interact with a gatekeeper, ask for something extra, and divulge personal information to prove that they are “disabled enough”. Accessibility creates a space that is always welcoming to people with disabilities. As a society, we are people with disabilities; therefore, as a society, we must integrate spaces and procedures for people with disabilities. 

  • Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution (2020)
  • Sins Invalid: An Unshamed Claim to Beauty (2013)
  • Born for Business (2021)
  • Born this Way (2015-2019)

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