Public disability history award


The Disability History Association (DHA) will accept applications for the third biennial (every two years) award that recognizes public disability history projects again in the fall and winter of 2023-2024. This award spotlights projects that exemplify DHA’s mission to foster expansive historical studies of disability and disabled people. This award recognizes excellent disability history work intended primarily for broad audiences (not academic audiences) and is meant to further the project’s reach and goals. 


$200 US 


The project may take various forms, including—but not limited to—publications, documentary films, digital projects, exhibitions, or public programs such as an educational workshop on disability history. 


Anyone may apply to be considered for the award or recommend or nominate another person’s project. Membership in DHA is encouraged but not required for consideration. Community-anchored and community-led disability history projects, completed within the last two years, are especially welcomed for consideration. Academic partnerships are not required. Projects may address any and all time periods and geographic regions. If the project is not originally conveyed in written English, a full translation will need to be provided.

Exclusions: Nominations for non-fiction books and journal articles will not be accepted. Please see our publication awards to nominate this genre of history. Disability History Association Board members and award committee members are not eligible to win the award.


Projects will be evaluated on the following criteria (see “accessibility commitment” below for more information):

  • Collaboration and involvement of two or more individuals or groups in the project, especially community groups and non-academics 
  • Inclusion of disabled people as central participants in the development, research, facilitation, and/or curating of the project
  • Extent of and commitment to programmatic and physical accessibility provided for project collaborators and audience
  • Quality of historical research and interpretation 
  • Connections to contemporary concerns in the disability community
  • Creativity in regard to mode of presentation (film, exhibition, digital modes such as blogs and archives, theater, etc.) and justification for choosing that mode
  • Completed within the last two years

*Partnerships with academic institutions are not required.


Applicants should explain clearly how they plan to use the money in the spirit of public history. This might include, for example, hosting a small event to launch or celebrate the project with collaborators or the community, or paying for some unfinished aspect of the project. The award recipient will be required to submit a brief report indicating how they used the award. This report may take a variety of forms, including by not limited to: a Q&A to be posted to the DHA blog or an interview to be included as part of a DHA podcast. The report is meant to help you and your group publicize your work and further public knowledge of disability history.


Award recipients will be asked to provide a brief interview with the project member(s) or a brief essay from them to include in DHA’s outreach/digital communications, such as but not limited to its blog and social media.


Submit to DHA via email to Nicole Belolan, award committee chair,

  1. A cover sheet or letter briefly introducing the project and the nomination packet contents you are submitting
  2. A narrative (200-1,000 words) that includes:
    • A description of the public history project that addresses its goals, format(s), connections to disability history and public history, and the process for completing the project. The description should clearly address project criteria listed above
    • An overview of how the project was made physically and/or programmatically accessible 
    • An explanation as to how the DHA award money will be used for the project
    • A list of primary collaborators and participants, noting their affiliations (if any) and roles

You are not expected to provide a longer explanation but may exceed these general parameters (200-1,000 words) if needed.

  1. Supporting documentation related to the project such as but not limited to:
    • Media coverage about the project
    • Copies of public feedback about the project
  2. Supporting letters from colleagues, community members, etc., may be requested of award finalists.


As outlined under “project criteria,” disability history award recipients should model physical and programmatic accessibility as best as possible. Please ensure that all visual or auditory supplements to your projects, such as film clips and PowerPoint slides, will be made available in accessible formats. To learn more about how to make your public history programming accessible, please take a look at our resource library:


The award nominations will be evaluated by a committee comprised of two DHA board members and three individual individuals with interests in disability public history. Committee members for 2021-2022 included:


The deadline for nominations for the 2021-2022 award has passed. Please keep and eye out for the 2023-2024 deadline.


The 2020 award call can be found here. We have prepared this announcement as a Word Document, a PDF, an infographic (pdf), and as social media graphics (png).


2021-2022: We are pleased to announce the second biennial Disability History Association Public Disability History Award goes to the Digital Archive of the Disability Rights Movement in Austria. This project was submitted by Volker Schönwiese, University of Innsbruck, Petra Flieger, Independent researcher, and Josefine Wagner, University of Innsbruck.

2019-2020: We are pleased to announce that Sari Altschuler and David Weimer’s “Touch This Page! Making Sense of the Ways We Read” received the first biennial Disability History Association Public Disability History Award in February 2020. You can read more about their project in the Fall 2020 issue of the Disability History Association Newsletter.