Social Theory & Health

, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 44–59 | Cite as

A future for disability: perceptions of disabled youth and nonprofit organizations

  • Christine Kelly
Original Article


Drawing on the turn in feminist disability studies toward notions of time and futurity, this article presents themes from a study of disability and health-related organizations and youth engagement in Ottawa, Canada. This article asks: what types of futures are imagined by youth with disabilities? How do they resemble or differ from the future visions of disability and health-related nonprofit organizations? And further, do these futures align with disability scholarship on crip futurity? Using a grounded theory approach and qualitative methods, the study included a website analysis of 84 organizations, key informant interviews with 25 employees, and five focus groups with 46 youth with disabilities. The youth with disabilities in this study have a depoliticized sense of being ‘out of time’ with normative temporalities. The organizations largely present ‘detached futures’ that imagine positive visions of the future that they are unable to enact in light of the structural constraints on their operations. Taken together, this article emphasizes the importance of encouraging disability organizations and disabled youth to generate images of crip futures beyond accommodation in order to transform experiences of disability in the present.


Disability studies Youth Nonprofit organizations Future Time Canada 



The author is deeply indebted to the lively focus group discussions with youth held in Ottawa and to the key informants who participated in this study. I also wish to acknowledge the work of Abbie Sizer, Kate Grisim, and Banke Oketola—the brilliant students who supported many aspects of this study. Michael Orsini provided invaluable feedback on this paper, and the project, from start to finish.


This research was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada [Grant Number: 430-2014-00237].


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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Community Health SciencesUniversity of ManitobaWinnipegCanada

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