Reflect: Key Groups, Connections and Discussion Questions

This page is about reflection.

You’ll find a list of some of the key people and organizations relevant to this section. You’ll also find a section called intersectionality to encourage thinking about how different issues are connected, and discussion questions to encourage deeper thinking. Take some time to answer the questions, look these people up and learn more about their stories.

The content on this site is not complete: there are countless numbers of people and so many stories — from small acts of defiance to major leadership positions — that didn’t get recorded or that don’t often make it into textbooks.

This website is meant to be grown and improved upon. We’ve included some of the heroes, but if you know people we are missing, let us know so we can include their stories too.

Key Groups

  • Judith Heumann
  • Ed Roberts
  • Lex Frieden
  • Tony Coelho
  • Minnesota State Council on Disability
  • The ARC Greater Twin Cities
  • The Disability Law Center
  • American Coalition of Citizens with Disabilities


The stigma surrounding disabilities has long been used as a method of disenfranchisement.

When women’s suffrage leaders demanded equal rights, many were labeled as having mental disabilities which made them unfit to perform the same civic roles as men. Disability, in this case, was used as a justification for discrimination against women, as well as furthering the stereotypes and marginalization of people with disabilities.

People with disabilities have historically faced similar societal barriers to activities such as voting that people of color and other marginalized Social marginalization happens when a group of people are denied equal and adequate opportunity to determine their treatment by the members of the broader society. It usually includes the lack of representation, recognition of rights and equal redistribution of resources and services groups face, by way of laws, policies and structural inequities that have disproportionately affect them.

Many scholars studying disability agree that disabilities are constructed by inaccessible environments - meaning that a physical or mental characteristic of someone that may be considered a disability is only considered that way because our society is largely constructed for able-bodied people.

When we consider intersectionality and disability, it might be helpful to think about the ways that our society has historically made and continues to make things inaccessible for certain groups of people because of their race, gender identity, class, ethnicity, sexuality, immigration status, etc.

To put this back into the context of voting, an immigrant with a physical disability might be doubly disenfranchised by practices such as voter I.D. laws, which often present barriers to voting for new citizens, and physical barriers, such as inaccessible facilities or lack of transportation to the polling place.

As with every community, it is always important to remember how identities overlap and can create layers of oppression.

Discussion Questions: 
Why do you think it took so long for people with disabilities to be fully given the right to vote?
Why did that discrimination continue?
Why is there still a restriction on some people’s right to vote?