Symposium to celebrate stories of people with disabilities

October 26th, 2018 Author: Ellen Hallman  |  More about Ellen
Contact: Gillian Grable  |  404-771-9033  | More about Gillian

The fourth annual Disability History Symposium – “From Exclusion to Building Communities” – will be held Nov. 1 at the University of Georgia Richard B. Russell Special Collections Library.

The event, presented by the Georgia Disability History Alliance, the Institute on Human Development and Disability and the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, will feature presentations from various speakers as well as an art exhibit by Rachel Watson, a graduate student in the Lamar Dodd School of Art.

Gillian Grable, organizer of the symposium, said the event “represents many decades of work done in the state of Georgia and other states in the effort of supporting people with disabilities to be full partners in community life.”

“This symposium really honors the fundamental belief that people matter, and that stories matter, and that stories are how we learn what’s real for each other,” Grable said.

Grable added that the topics discussed in the symposium “arise from efforts to counter the harmful effects of several hundred years of people living with disabilities being sent away and segregated in institutional settings – being seen as less than others and being physically unable to get around the community.”

Much of the program seeks to highlight the people and stories that are paving the way for a more accessible and inclusive society.

“The symposium celebrates the stories of people with disabilities,” Grable said. “Our communities are places where we all can thrive when each and everyone’s gifts have a place and people with whom to express that gift.”

The art exhibit by Watson features pillars of wood that represent the lives of 888 people who were forced to live their lives in exclusion.

A list of patients at Central State Hospital in the mid-1800s inspired Watson to ask  “Why do people treat others as they do?”

The event is free and open to the public, though participants are encouraged register in advance:

A reception following the symposium will honor UGA Disability Studies students who created historical displays for the event using materials from the Georgia Disability History Archive housed at the Russell Library.

For additional information, contact Robert Lay at or (706) 542-0627.

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