Please Share

About Society for Disability Studies

The Society for Disabilities is exactly that: a group of (primarily academic) people that study disability as a subject. They splice and dice it in every imaginable way: from sexuality to employment, from neuro-divergence to deaf issues in rural India. I mean, you name it, they’ve got it covered.

I love it, and I think a lot of you reading this blog will too, because we all kind of hold this thing called “disability” up to the light and take good, hard looks at it. I mean, within the Down syndrome community, within the d/Deaf community, I see us taking these aspects of disability that directly relate to us and wonder what means, how it relates to the culture we live in, the world we form, the schools and communities we belong to. Right?

It’s an exciting bunch of people in SDS.

A lot of thinkers who think out of the box (and I mean, WAAAAY out of the box), other thinkers that ask the questions that help us find answers, and a lot of practitioners who understand disability on a level that helps clarify and articulate what disability means for many of us right here, right now.

Community Scholarship

I’m obviously not related to anything academic anymore – I’m just a farming, blogging mom-nerd that loves this kind of stuff. Thankfully, there is room in SDS for what they call “community scholarship” – that is, regular folk that like to study disability on their own.

So Katherine and I had a place at the table, asking our questions about d/Deaf IdentityWhile we’d both like to go back to school at some point to earn our PhD’s, we can’t right now, so this conference is the perfect place for us to scratch the itch of some of our questions and fuel our ideas, be inspired by others.

Anyway, so. The Conference.

This year it was in Atlanta and we arrived, made our happy way to the hotel

Meriah Nichols -3

Cracked open our program guides and dived into the summaries while scarfing down these things called “Bubba Burgers” (- made “bubba” by the fried green tomatoes in it, I think?) (gotta love the south).

Meriah Nichols -5

Now, Katherine and I are both moms of 3 kids (each). She’s a single mom through and through and I am highly solo for a good chunk of the farming year.

We don’t get the chance to frolic and fun that often.

I’m talking “frolic and fun” as meaning, “be ourselves without having to be responsible for young people hanging on to us”

Meriah Nichols -6 Meriah Nichols -2-2

I think the fancier way to say “frolic and fun” might be “rejuvenate and become inspired”

Meriah Nichols -9 Meriah Nichols -3-2

But either way – whether it was “be ourselves without having to be responsible for young people hanging on to us” or “rejuvenate and become inspired”, it’s all good, because it all happened. We frolic’ed. We fun’ed. We were rejuvenated and inspired. We had that dose of academia, community and meshing of like-minded folk that we craved.

From meeting long-time friends from the Down syndrome parent community for the first time – George Estreich  Alison Piepmeier and Rachel Adams

Meriah Nichols -12-2

Meriah Nichols -1-8

to spending moments with Corbett O’Toole – she who is the dynamic woman who has been my mentor in just about everything disability/community related (- and who has a new book out! Fading Scars)

Meriah Nichols -2-6

To new friends – our lovely room-mate and co-presenter Fiona (all the way from Tasmania)

Meriah Nichols -2-3 Meriah Nichols -1-7 Meriah Nichols -5-3

Cara Leibowitz  – whose writing I love

Meriah Nichols -1-9

Emily Ladau as well (WHERE IS THE PHOTO???!!)

Ibby Grace, with her new book out  – Typed Words, Loud Voices 

Meriah Nichols -6-4

Beth Haller! From Representing Disability in an Ableist World.

So. Many. Friends.

So many people that were so very interesting to us, so many conversations, ideas, questions, studies, findings.

Katherine and I headed over the pool for a break when our heads got full

thumbs up
thumbs up
katherine and I
katherine and I

We were there Wednesday through Sunday – despite all the lack of sleep and focusing on hearing (which can be really exhausting), I was rejuvenated and READY FOR MY KIDS!!

Whom I missed. So much.

Best feeling in the world, right? That feeling of being alive inside and happy, juiced from friends and energy and gorgeous Atlanta weather – and missing the kids so hard that when I see them, I just dropped on down and swept them up.

meriah nichols kids
…I was actually crying here…

SDS ’16: I’m planning on it.





Please Share

Similar Posts


  1. That sounds like a lot of fun. Did you get some good responses to your questions? I would answer them if they were posted here.

    1. We weren’t actually looking for answers in the presentation! It was more by asking the questions, we wanted to stimulate thought and to share the perspective that there are SO MANY questions surrounding the truth of d/Deaf identity.
      We hope to write a book together to explore some of the answers… 🙂

      1. That is really cool. I’m not deaf but have hearing loss and that is a big part of who I am. The only other person with hearing loss(her’s is more severe) in my school won’t talk to me because I don’t sign,I don’t embrace deaf culture, I try too hard to fit in to the “hearing world” and I eagerly use assistive technology. I would totally read such a book.

  2. piepmeiera says:

    It’s taken me so long to respond to this! Sorry. It’s been great fun connecting with you. xoxox!

  3. Hi Meriah,
    My band Nick and The Grooves® provided the DJ service for this 2015 convention (our drummer is also a DJ). I searched Google for pics from the dance, and found your blog. OMG. Your photos and writing are so great at capturing the moment. I almost started crying at the end myself (my son is 3, and I know what it’s like to be traveling away from him).
    As the son of a disabled, I thank you for sharing your experience and inspiring others [no doubt] to attend this wonderful annual celebration of learning and people. I am thrilled that my beloved city of Atlanta was a good home to SDS and look forward to its return in 2018. ~Nick

    1. Wow, how wonderful! Thanks, Nick! (and your music was awesome – we really *got down*)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.