The period since the early 1980s has seen the emergence of disability studies, a fertile zone of creativity and productive research concerned with the ways in which socio-cultural and environmental experiences interact with individuals'physiological and psychological conditions, diagnoses, and impairments. Disability Studies advances an interdisciplinary approach encompassing the humanities, social, behavioral and health sciences, and the Society for Disability Studies is the first professional organization supporting research and scholarship in this emerging field. Today, the growth of disability studies programs is most evident in the health sciences. The proposed conference strand within the Society for Disability Studies 2013 and 2014 meetings addresses the mandate from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) calling for increased "translational research" in the Health Sciences. The NIH has asked for the development of interdisciplinary research teams that include basic, applied, clinical, and social scientists. The PIs define translational research as endeavors where investigators from two or more of the above branches of health and applied social sciences research are collaborating on four different levels of research: (1) Basic, (2) Applied, (3) Clinical Training &Practice, and (4) Policy, (Stony Brook 2011). The proposed SDS conference strand in "Translational Research in Disability Studies and the Health Sciences" has three objectives: Objective #1: Create a series of panels and workshops where senior investigators can discuss the history, current status, and future of translational disability studis research as it interacts with the health sciences. The PIs wish to consider how issues such as intersectionality, disability justice and other important disability studies theoretical contributins are incorporated at basic, applied, clinical, and policy levels of translational disability researc. Objective #2: Mentor emerging disability studies scholars and junior investigators to produce research proposals and peer-reviewed articles for publication. Objective #3: Build the capacity of the Society for Disability Studies to sustain this dialogue on translational research and the accompanying mentoring program by organizing a network of disability studies translational researchers who are committed to organizing to meet and present annually at the Society for Disability Studies meetings.
Over the past four decades the disability rights activist assertion of nothing about us without us had had a profound impact on public health policy for US disabled people and communities. Disability Studies is a field committed to evidence-based social and policy change for improved quality of life and health for disabled people. Often referred to as the nation's largest minority group and the only minority group that anyone can join at any time, the relevance of disability to public health in this aging society is clear. Translational disability studies research is a means to identify and address health disparities specific to disabled people and communities. It is also a means to identify intersections where disability meets racial, gender and other types of minority experiences.