What is Critical Disability Studies?

Critical Disability Studies tends to consider ‘disability’ not only as a physical, neurological or biomechanical problem to be rectified by medical treatment and interventions. In this medical model, disability is often reduced to ‘impairment’ and seen as a condition, property or quality of an individual. CDS understands the complex interconnection between medicine, society and bodies. There is an important body of work in CDS that criticizes the particular shortcomings of this model and offers new ways of thinking that can interweave impairment and disability.

Critical disability studies considers how institutions, cities or societies ‘dis-able’ people systemically and socially as well as looking into how the body and impairment can critically be incorporated into the discussions of disability and disablement.

Critical Disability Working Group

The Critical Disability Studies Working Group (CDSWG) is an interdisciplinary team of scholars and creators that engage in an ongoing transformation of disability studies into a critical paradigm. Our research underscores the ways that normative assumptions about the body, cognition and perception operate on ‘able-ist’ assumptions that promote a limited range of understanding of what it means to be human.

The Critical Disability Studies Working Group gives Critical Disability Studies its first formal presence in Montreal and as our increasing numbers indicate there is a need for this type of scholarship, that we are filling not only at Concordia, but in Montreal and Quebec.


Le Critical Disability Studies Working Group (CDSWG) est un groupe de travail interdisciplinaire composé de chercheurs et de créateurs engagés dans le développement des études critiques du handicap. Nos recherches soulignent les façons dont les normes par rapport au corps, à la cognition et à la perception reposent sur des valeurs et pratiques capacitistes (ableist). Ces normes font la promotion d’une compréhension limitée de ce que signifie le fait d’être humain.

Le Critical Disability Studies Working Group donne aux études critiques du handicap leur première présence officielle à Montréal. Le nombre croissant de membres indique qu’il existe un besoin réel pour ce type de recherche à l’Université Concordia, ainsi qu’à Montréal et au Québec en général.