Disability Inclusion in Climate Change: Impacts and Intersections

Marsha L. Saxton, Alex Ghenis


The community of people with disabilities is uniquely affected by devastation brought on by climate change. This population is increasingly appearing on lists of “vulnerable” among many other groups in the social justice framework. Public policy has begun to include the voices of persons with disabilities among the planning constituencies. Yet the needs of this constituency are poorly understood regarding which measures could realistically enable survival in environmentally compromised circumstance. This very diverse group comprises approximately 10 to 15% of the global population, and within all other sub-populations, a figure that will likely increase with climate change impact. Discriminatory attitudes and policies tend to simplify this multiply intersectional population to “people with special needs.” This simplification ignores the diverse, complex needs and circumstances of individuals with disabilities, for those with visual, hearing, and mobility impairments, and so on, as well as their various socio-economic cross-constituencies such as gender, ethnicity, age, etc. In this context, focus on climate change and disability is disturbingly rare. This article explores key intersectional issues related to disability and climate change impact, recommending an educational, research and advocacy agenda for both the Climate Change and the Disability Rights movements.

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Saxton and Ghenis


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Copyright (c) 2018 Marsha L. Saxton, Alex Ghenis

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