Encountering Disability in a Post-COVID University

March 22, 2024 | 10:00-3:00 PM

Location: Language Commons (New Cabell Hall Suite 298)

NOTE: Registration is only required for the lunch workshop Staying Afloat in a Sea of Accommodations with Elizabeth Ellcessor. Other speakers are open attendance.

Disability and Mental Illness: Connections, Gaps, and Possibilities

Kerry Dobransky


Kerry Dobransky a beareded man with round glasses in a colorful patterned shirt


Disability and mental illness have a complex relationship. On the one hand, mental disorders are some of the most common impairments listed for disability benefits and services programs. On other hand, the means we used to define, measure, and identify with disability are distinct from those associated with mental illness, resulting in gaps in knowledge, policy, and community. This talk will highlight these issues and suggest some ways forward. 

Kerry Dobransky is Professor of Sociology at James Madison University. Using a variety of different methods, his research focuses at the intersections of mental illness, health care, disability, and digital inequality. His recent work has examined the management of stigma in mental health care, as well as how disabled people experienced the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. This work has been published in journals such as Social Science and Medicine, Society and Mental Health, and American Behavioral Scientist. His ethnographic study of community care for people with serious mental illness, which won awards from the Medical Sociology and Mental Health sections of the American Sociological Association, was published in the book Managing Madness in the Community (Rutgers, 2014).

Workshop: Staying Afloat in a Sea of Accommodations

Elizabeth Ellcessor


Elizabeth Ellcessor a woman with brown hair and glasses against a wooded backdrop

This session supports instructors in navigating the increasing number of requests for student disability accommodations. Instructors will receive guidance on several challenges including identifying what constitutes a reasonable accommodation, reevaluating course materials, changing class assignments or procedures, and locating appropriate resources. This session provides an opportunity for instructors to candidly discuss their challenges in implementing accommodations with colleagues and an expert facilitator and consider next steps in their own teaching. Participants will leave this session equipped with a deeper understanding of disability accommodations, along with practical strategies and peer insights to help them navigate these challenges effectively in their teaching roles.

Includes lunch. Limited to 20 participants.

Please register before March 15: Workshop Sign-up

Elizabeth Ellcessor, Center for Teaching Excellence Faculty Fellow and Associate Professor of Media Studies, has over fifteen years of research experience focused on digital accessibility and disability inclusion, with particular focus on university environments, as well as a professional background in accessible web development. 

Against Technoableism, Toward Disabled Everything

Ashley Shew


Ashley Shew a woman with blond hair against a grass backdrop holding a prosthetic leg like a guitar

Technoableism is the idea that sometimes the way we think about technology for disability actually reinscribes ableist beliefs. By looking at common and misguided tropes about disability, testimony from the disability community, and counternarratives against stories that flatten the experience of disability, this talk reevaluates the stories we tell ourselves about designing technologies "for good" and opens discussion about the value of disabled storytelling, disabled expertise, disabled planning, disability imagination, and disabled everything. 

Ashley Shew is an associate professor of Science, Technology, and Society at Virginia Tech and author of Against Technoableism: Rethinking Who Needs Improvement (2023). She serves as co-editor-in-chief of Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology, and she's a recent guest editor for MIT Technology Review's All Access Special Issue and the Harvard's Petrie-Flom Center's Bill of Health Blog Symposium on Addressing Technoableism. She is recipient of a National Science Foundation CAREER Award (#1750260, 2018-2023) and lead investigator for an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Grant for Just Disability Tech.


Center for Teaching Excellence

Disability Studies Initiative

A&S Learning Design & Technology

UVA Coordinator of Academic Accessibility

Photo of Emily Scida

Emily Scida

Senior Instructional Designer