Duke Disability Alliance

Image description: ten people standing in front of a stage smile into the camera. They are students, teachers, and artists of different ages, races, and abilities. From left: Marion Quirici, Antoine Hunter, Jay Pande, Deepti Agnihotri, Kevin Solomon, Carrie Sandahl (front), Cathy Choi (back), Symon Ma, Maddie Fowler, and Barbara Barnes.

DDA is a student organization whose mission is to make Duke more inclusive and accessible by fostering conversations about disability issues, expanding accessibility on campus and in the community, encouraging positive perceptions and full appreciations of people with disabilities, and promoting their legal rights. We strive to engage the entire Duke community to make Duke a better place for those with and without disabilities.

Contact DDA at dukedisabilityalliance@duke.edu.

Follow us on Facebook and twitter. We also have a YouTube channel!

Our advocacy goals:

1) Improving physical accessibility on campus so that students with disabilities can participate fully and equally, and creating accessible maps of the interiors of campus buildings,

2) Working with faculty to promote accessible learning and cultivate better conditions for neurodiversity in higher ed,

3) Instituting American Sign Language courses that count toward language requirements,

4) Creating a Disability Cultural Center for students with disabilities and mental health challenges,

5) Supporting opportunities for students to pursue coursework in disability studies through the creation of a Disability Studies and Health Humanities curricular program. Click here to see our Curriculum Survey Summary!


Disability Pride Week:

DDA changed the name of “Disability Awareness Week” to “Disability Pride Week” in 2017 to celebrate disability culture and assert the value of disabled identities.

For the past several years, Duke students have come together the final week of March for a week of activism and events.

Disability Pride Week 2021 & 2022

Disability Pride Week 2020

Disability Pride Week 2018

Disability Pride Week 2017


Our history:

DDA was founded by Megan Barron in 2011 with the “Accessibility Matters” campaign.

In 2014, Jay Ruckelshaus organized a retreat called “Beyond Disability, Beyond Compliance” to discuss the need to go beyond the minimum standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act in order to enable full and equal participation in the life of the community.

In 2016, DDA president Cuquis Robledo and Jay Ruckelshaus discussed the inaccessible aspects of campus life. By working toward greater accessibility, we hope to make Duke a place that more students with disabilities will want to attend.

In 2017, we became the first affiliate of the DREAM Network (Disability Rights, Education, Activism, and Mentoring), a national organization by and for college students with disabilities, sponsored by the National Center for College Students with Disabilities (NCCSD) based at the Association on Higher Education And Disability (AHEAD). They even wrote about us in their blog, “College While Disabled”!

Also in 2017, our president Cuquis Robledo completed a documentary on Disability at Duke.

In 2018 we organized a “Disability and the Arts” showcase at the Nasher museum featuring the exciting talents of three invited artists.

In 2019, our faculty advisor Marion Quirici was invited to give a TEDx talk about our activism. Later that year we helped the Health Humanities Lab organize a large conference on Disability in the Disciplines, in which around 250 people participated, many of whom were from the community outside Duke.

In 2020, we had almost realized our dream of founding a Disability Cultural Center when COVID-19 interrupted our plans.

We had a Zoom send-off party for an amazing cohort of graduating seniors and allies, and the Health Humanities Lab published features on DDA members Bryan Rusch, Kevin Solomon, and Ali Sloan.

In the fall of 2020, we finally got a physical space for the Cultural Center! We also formed the Disability Studies and Health Humanities Interest Group, with over 250 student members. The student group was led by student Maddie Fowler, the first student to our knowledge to complete a Program II undergraduate degree in Disability Studies at Duke. We have been working with faculty and students since 2018 to make Disability Studies & Health Humanities an official degree at Duke University.

In November 2021, we held a well-attended student Speak Out for our proposed minor. We participated in campus-wide dialogue about the need for such a minor, and its potential to promote rigorous critical thinking and interdisciplinary inquiry.


Our partner organizations at Duke:

Autoimmune Campus Alliance

Chronic Health Conditions Storytelling Group

Design for America

Duke Adaptive Climbing

Duke ASL Club

Duke Medical Ethics Journal

Duke Student Government, Equity and Outreach Committee

Duke Students for Universal Design


Health Humanities Lab at the Franklin Humanities Institute

Hoof ‘n’ Horn sensory-friendly performances

Law Students for Accessibility

Learning Different

National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI)

Neurodiversity Connections

ReImagine Medicine

Runway of Dreams

The Clubhouse

The Flow


Our partner organizations in the community and the state:

Alliance of Disability Advocates

Arts Access

B3 Coffee (UNC)

Disability Rights North Carolina

Durham Mayor’s Committee for Persons with Disabilities

North Carolina Council on Developmental Disabilities

North Carolina Statewide Independent Living Council

Reality Ministries