OHR Call for Submissions for Upcoming Special Issue on Oral History and Disability

The Oral History Review invites submissions with a special focus on intersections of oral history and disability. Submit full articles by 31 March 2024.

The Oral History Review is happy to announce a call for papers for a special issue dedicated to oral history and disability. It is currently slated for publication in Spring 2025. Oral historians often write and talk about inclusion, even radical inclusion. What does this mean in practice? What contributions have oral historians made – or can they make – to Disability Studies? What are the cultural representations of disability and how can oral historians add to a view of disability beyond the traditional, mostly medical, and socially constructed ones? What do the practices of oral historians with disabilities look or sound like? What can oral historians learn about communication from people with disabilities? And how do such themes as embodiment, trauma, and identity, topics oral historians often discuss, apply to disability?

For this issue, we especially want to encourage multimedia submissions and to push thinking around new technologies for both interviewing and oral history project outcomes. This might include, for example, for the blind and seeing impaired, not only audio but perhaps screen reader (or text-to- audio) software. For people who are deaf or hearing impaired, the use of signed interviews with video online (ASL), closed captioning, and downloadable transcripts. Or for people with neurocognitive differences, intellectual disabilities, and other conditions, anything from assistive devices to language cues within an interview to the use of photos to aid in story capture.

This special issue thus asks oral historians to explore:

  • Multimedia projects and the use of audio/video/photography
  • New technologies for both interviewing and oral history project outcomes
  • Access and accessibility
  • Visibility and its meanings
  • Stories before and after the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act
  • The second wave of the disability rights movement, also called Disability Justice (DJ)
  • The role of oral history in Disability Studies and history
  • How disability is framed today and at different times and places
  • Disability and advocacy, family, and religious belief
  • Stories from the field of narrative medicine, which seeks to bridge clinical practice and patients’ emotional health and well being
  • What oral historians can learn about communication from people with disabilities, and/or from artists with disabilities who address the labor of care in their work
  • How oral history can be used to investigate the structural ableism that people with disabilities confront daily (spatial equity)
  • Disability and poverty, gender, or race
  • COVID-19 stories
  • And other themes that oral historians often address – embodiment, trauma, community, labor, inclusion/exclusion, identity – as applied to disability

It is estimated that one in four people in the U.S. alone live with a disability.

If you have questions, book and media review ideas, or would like to discuss your proposal in advance, please contact the incoming OHR editor, Holly Werner-Thomas, at holly@hollythomasoralhistory.com by December 31, 2023. To submit your articles, use the OHR submission portal. The deadline for full manuscript submissions is March 31, 2024.