Social change is about coming together. It's about justice. It's about access. I've seen a lot of these changes myself, with the advent of the ADA, mainstreaming education, and the adoption of person-first language for people with disabilities. I like to think that in many ways, art contributes to social change.

These are positive changes that I've been a part of. And we all can contribute to social change. Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” It starts with you and your worldview. Just by your actions, you can be a part of it. We can comment on social changes through art. This includes the Disability Art Movement. The Disability Art Movement can be seen as art made to give an experience of disabilities by people with disabilities. Allan Sutherland says: “History is crucial to any culture, and it is essential to Disability Arts. It is through a sense of history that we define who we are, what journey we have undertaken and how far we have come. We also, implicitly, map out the future.”  It is through art and representation that change begins to happen. Disability history is more than just learning when the ADA was signed, when Ed Roberts led the sit-ins at Berkeley that led to the development of Independent Living Centers. It is more than the history of “important people”. 

    It begins with each one of us expressing ourselves, our inner lives and experiences. It's not just about putting wheelchair ramps everywhere, but including all those with disabilities. And we can only do that once our art and culture is recognized. Whether you're an advocate of people with disabilities or an artist with disabilities, social change begins with you and all of us. Until then, keep creating!

- Chris Bowsman

Image: white wheelchair logo with person in motion on blue background.