Ableism, On and Off the Page: Literature and Invisible Disability

Room 2103B, Kansas City Convention Center, Street Level
Saturday, February 10, 2024
1:45 pm to 3:00 pm


These writers have mental and physical disabilities that are not obvious at first glance. They will discuss new literary framings of disability in terms of social marginalization, "othering," and denial of agency rather than simply personal struggles to overcome. Do writers with unseen disabilities have an obligation to speak about their conditions? Is it enough to "raise awareness" about one's condition? How can writers also undermine ableist perspectives through their work?

Outline & Supplemental Documents

Event Outline: Ableism,_On_and_Off_the_Page_(1).pdf



Brad Buchanan is a retired professor and author of eight books, most recently Living with Graft Versus Hot Disease and Chimera. Diagnosed with T-cell lymphoma, he had a stem cell transplant that made him a genetic chimera, and left him blind for eighteen months, disabled, and chronically ill.

Dianne Bilyak is the author of Nothing Special: The Mostly True, Sometimes Funny Tales of Two Sisters (Wesleyan University Press, 2021). She's a Pushcart Prize-nominated poet, graduate of the Institute of Sacred Music and Art, and a disability rights advocate.

Leticia Escalera has worked with the Center for Independent Living and served two board terms on a California disability advocacy organization and the Oakland Mayor's Commission on Persons with Disabilities. She’s written a memoir about life with cognitive/neurological disabilities.

Nika C. Beamon attended Boston College and is a TV writer/producer in New York City. She is the author of the nonfiction book I Didn't Work This Hard Just To Get Married (Chicago Review Press, 2009) and the critically acclaimed memoir Misdiagnosed: The Search For Dr. House.

William Hartwick is a retired first grade teacher and elementary school principal (Del Norte County, California school district) who now works as a motivational speaker and author. His latest work, The Invisible Backpack, addresses his bipolar disorder and Tourette's syndrome through verse.


February 7–10, 2024
Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City Convention Center