Events and Workshops

Disability Community Day of Mourning — March 1, 2021

UNC Asheville’s Disability Cultural Center, together with the Office of Academic Accessibility, marks the Disability Community Day of Mourning on March 1. Since 2012, members of the disability community have gathered to remember disabled victims of filicide–disabled people murdered by their family members or caregivers. UNC Asheville held its first memorial vigil in 2017. The Disability Community Day of Mourning 2021 will mark the fourth gathering to mark this somber occasion, and the first time this vigil has been held virtually. We are pleased to welcome Maxfield Sparrow, Carol Cleigh Sutton, Jade McWilliams, and Ray Hemachandra to help lead our vigil.

For more information about disabled lives lost to filicide, visit the Disability Day of Mourning website,




About our presenters:

Maxfield Sparrow is an Autistic advocate and activist. They are the author of the Unstrange Mind blog and The ABC’s of Autism Acceptance from Autonomous Press as well as the editor of Spectrums: Autistic Transgender People in Their Own Words from Jessica Kingsley Publishers. Max currently lives in Colorado where they work as a Direct Support Professional.

Carol Cleigh Sutton has been a disability rights activist for more than a quarter century and has been with Not Dead Yet since its inception and served several terms on its board. In Chicago, she worked with Access Living, ADAPT, DePaul University College of Law, Progress Center for Independent Living and co-founded Suburban Access Squad to make housing, business, and public transit accessible. She was recognized by the Illinois Independent Living Coalition and the Pace and Metra boards for her contribution to accessibility as well as receiving an Aurora award for her work with Metra. She currently resides in far Western North Carolina and serves on the Nantahala Regional Library board and Clay County Transit advisory board. She has also published extensively on disability rights issues in both academic and popular settings.

Ray Hemachandra is an organizational consultant and an advocate for developmentally and intellectually disabled and autistic people. He serves on boards, workgroups, and advisory committees for numerous nonprofits and government organizations, speaks at conferences and in college classes, and occasionally writes about related issues at

The following events are not UNCA-sponsored, but open to all who are seeking to engage with Disability Rights, Disability Culture, and Accessibility:


The World on Fire: Ecology, Poetry, and Disability Justice

Wednesday March 31, 2021

An evening of readings and a dialogue among distinguished poets and young poets of tomorrow— a chorus of diverse voices exploring the transformative power of words at the intersection of disability and climate justice.

Co-facilitated by Bryan Doerries, Stephen A. Kuusisto, and Diane R. Wiener.

Featuring performances by: Ona Gritz, Stephen Kuusisto, Ekiwah Adler-Belendez, Taylor Brorby, Camisha Jones, Maddy Dietz (Class of 2020 National Student Poet), Christian Butterfield (Class of 2019 National Student Poet), Alondra Uribe (Class of 2019 National Student Poet), David James “DJ” Savarese, and Christopher Costello.

Please register for this free Zoom event at:

An Afternoon with Keah Brown: Perspectives on Black, Queer and Disability Identity, Navigating College and Beyond

April 1, at 4:00pm PST (7:00 pm EST)

This free event will be held online – registration is at

Keah Brown is an actress, journalist, author and screenwriter. She is the creator of #DisabledAndCute. Her work has appeared in Teen Vogue, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire U.K. and The New York Times, among other publications. Her debut essay collection “The Pretty One” is out now. Her debut picture book, “Sam’s Super Seats,” will be published in 2022.

A Crip Reckoning: Reflections on the ADA@30:

This February 2, 2021 event would be an excellent addition to any curriculum regarding civil rights, inclusion, history, disability, disability culture, education, advocacy, and innovation. The distinguished panel of thought leaders and scholar-activists included LeDerick Horne, Naomi Ortiz, Pratik Patel, David James (“DJ”) Savarese, & Alice Wong, and was moderated by Stephen Kuusisto.

Event recording:

Full Transcript:

Event Resource Guide:

LeDerick Horne is a Poet, Speaker, and Advocate who uses his gift for spoken-word poetry as the gateway to larger discussions on equal opportunity, pride, self-determination, and hope for people with disabilities.

Naomi Ortiz is a Writer, Poet, Facilitator, and Visual Artist whose work focuses on self-care for activists, disability justice, intersectional organizing, and relationship with place.

Pratik Patel is Director of Information Technology Access for CUNY and Owner of EZFire Enterprises LLC, which consults on a variety of technology projects on accessibility for people with disabilities.

David James (“DJ”) Savarese is an Author, Artful Activist, Public Speaker, and Practicing Optimist, working to make self-determined lives a reality for nontraditionally speaking people.

Alice Wong (she/her) is a Disabled Activist, Media Maker, and Consultant, and the Founder/Director of the Disability Visibility Project, an online community dedicated to creating, sharing, and amplifying disability media and culture.

Stephen Kuusisto is a University Professor and the Director of the Office of Interdisciplinary Programs and Outreach at the BBI. A widely published poet and author, he is a frequent speaker in the U.S. and abroad.


Crip Camp Curriculum:

Five modules developed from the acclaimed documentary “Crip Camp” that provide education on disability: Media Literacy; Power and Disability Justice; Power and Civil Rights; Ableism, Language, and Power; Strategic Use of Privilege and Power

See all five modules here:

Black and white photo of young people, interracial, carrying poster board signs to a protest reading Sign 504 and end the war, and Civil Rights are for all people with disabilities
Still from “Crip Camp”