A Disability Primer: Reclaiming, Imagining, Creating Change

Breakout Option A
Day 1: November 14, 2022 | 12:30 p.m. – 1:45 p.m., Varsity Hall

Session Video

Session Materials

A large, detailed graphic visualization in red, black and white.
Graphic recording by Sherrill Knezel of the Diversity Forum 2022 session: “A Disability Primer: Reclaiming, Imagining, Creating Change.” Tap to view the full-size image.

Session Description

When we reflect on our nation’s history and some of the more recent conversations around social justice, it is clear that society was not intended or designed for people with disabilities. Even 32 years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, disabled people are still fighting for equal access and inclusion.

In this session, we will review pieces of disability history in the United States and recall key moments in activism on disability justice. How we think about disability needs to be reframed to embrace access and inclusion as a shared societal norm. Collectively, engaging in conversations on disability and ableism is one way to affect change. We will highlight disabled activists, past and present, and honor their legacies in continuing these needed conversations. We will talk about ways to reframe disability through the social model of disability and steps to actively engage and interrupt ableism at the University.

Participants in this session will:

  • Review some of the history of disability in the United States
  • Learn about some of the key moments in activism centered on disability justice
  • Understand the difference between the medical and social models of disability
  • Gain an understanding of the underpinnings of ableism and how it presents today
  • Strategize actionable steps to recognize and disrupt ableism


Patty Cisneros Prevo

Patty Cisneros Prevo has always centered her work around diversity, equity and inclusion. Cisneros Prevo received her bachelor’s degree from Valparaiso University in Education and earned her M.Ed. from the University of Illinois as a graduate student-athlete. For years, Cisneros Prevo has taught and served predominately underrepresented populations. Cisneros Prevo was the assistant director of inclusion & engagement with Wisconsin Athletics, where she assisted in the development and execution of the DEI Strategic Plan. As the diversity and inclusion manager for the Wisconsin School of Business, Cisneros Prevo has spearheaded diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives in the Undergraduate Program Office.

Thumbnail of speaker Patty Cisneros Prevo.

Mari Magler

Mari Magler, J.D., is the director of the McBurney Disability Resource Center at UW–Madison. She has worked in the disability field since 1994 and in higher education since 2005. She earned her Juris Doctor from Hamline University School of Law, and her bachelor’s in linguistics from Metropolitan State University. She co-authored “The Mentor’s Companion: A Practical Guide to Mentoring” and “A Plan for Mentorship of Educational Interpreters in Minnesota.”

Thumbnail of speaker Mari Magler.

Ruben Mota

Ruben Mota, Ph.D., serves as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Coordinator for UW–Madison, collaborating and coordinating with university partners to ensure UW continually strives for access and inclusivity for individuals with disabilities.

Before joining the Office of Compliance, Dr. Mota worked on campus at the McBurney Disability Resource Center as an associate director for student services and assistant director of accommodation services. Previously, he was the head of student support services and director of learning support at two international schools in Switzerland.

Dr. Mota earned his doctorate in leadership and educational administration from Capella University and has been involved in the disability field since 2003.

Thumbnail of speaker Ruben Mota.