Disability and Access Initiative

The Disability and Access Initiative (DAI) at Duke

The Disability and Access Initiative is open to all educators at Duke, and currently includes faculty and graduate students from the humanities, the social sciences, Pratt School of Engineering, the Global Health Institute, the School of Medicine, the School of Law, and the Divinity School. Through readings and discussions, participants work toward building disability studies content into their courses and developing a disability-conscious pedagogy. Together, we aim to improve the accessibility of our campus culture, and lead Duke students in promoting disability justice.



  • Marion Quirici, PhD, is co-director of the Duke Health Humanities Lab and a Lecturing Fellow in the Thompson Writing Program, where she teaches disability studies writing courses. Her research analyzes the narratives cultures create to justify inequality on the basis of disability, as well as methods of resistance. She has also published on autism and neurodiversity. In addition to directing the Disability and Access Initiative working group for faculty, she also serves as the advisor of Duke Disability Alliance. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Alliance of Disability Advocates, a center for independent living that serves the Triangle and surrounding counties. Marion’s disability advocacy journey begins with her experiences as a sibling, but she also identifies as a “spoonie” within the chronic pain/disability community. (Read about “The Spoon Theory” here!)


  • Michael Accinno, PhD, is a Lecturing Fellow in the Thompson Writing Program at Duke University. He holds a Ph.D. in Musicology from the University of California, Davis. He specializes in disability studies and nineteenth-century U.S. music. His dissertation examines the history of music education at schools for the blind in New York City, Boston, and London. He is currently working on a book manuscript adapted from his dissertation, as well as an article assessing music critic John Sullivan Dwight’s involvement with the Perkins School for the Blind.


  • Eileen Anderson, MA and PhD, teaches language, writing, service-learning, and culture courses in the Romance Studies Department at Duke University, including a disability studies Spanish course. Her primary area of interest is using technology to encourage students to collaborate more effectively. Her scholarly work provides new insights into the ways in which communities interact. She has a PhD in comparative literature from UNC Chapel Hill and an MA in Digital Teaching and Learning from NC State.


  • Jennifer Ansley, PhD, is faculty in the Thompson Writing Program. Their scholarship in both Writing Studies and Queer Cultural Studies is united by questions surrounding the politics of care and caregiving. Ansley’s book manuscript in-progress, Feeling Queer: The Institutionalization of Care & Safety, examines how vulnerable populations—queer and trans people, disabled people, people of color, and the elderly—have rhetorically and discursively responded to interpersonal and state violence, and have used writing and storytelling to imagine non-normative kinship and caregiving networks that support their survival.


  • Jeffrey Baker, MD and PhD, is a pediatrician and historian, who has written and lectured around the country on the history of pediatrics, vaccines, and autism. A Professor at Duke University School of Medicine, he directs the Trent Center for Bioethics, Humanities, and History of Medicine. He has had a longstanding clinical focus on children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders and has been affiliated with the research and clinical programs of the Duke Center for Autism and Brain Development.


  • Sarah Barton, ThD, MS, OTR/L, BCP is Assistant Professor of Occupational Therapy and Theological Ethics. Dr. Barton holds a dual appointment at Duke University School of Medicine in the Occupational Therapy Doctorate Division of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, as well as at Duke Divinity School. In addition to her academic appointment, Dr. Barton works at Duke Health as an occupational therapist with a board certification in pediatrics. Her research focuses on questions at the intersections of theology and disability, bioethics, and liturgy. Dr. Barton’s dissertation research involved participatory methodology to explore the religious participation and identities of adults with intellectual disabilities. She identifies as a person with a non-perceptible disability. Outside the academy and clinic, Dr. Barton serves as a lay leader in The Episcopal Church and is a current fellow of the Episcopal Church Foundation.


  • Kevin Caves, MEM, is a Clinical Associate in the Department of Surgery at Duke University. He specializes in Technology and Design for People with Disabilities, Assistive Technology, Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC), Rehabilitation Engineering, and Computer Technology. He is also an instructor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and Clinical Associate in the Department of Medicine at Duke University. His recent research projects include the development of brain computer interface (BCI) technologies, the use of sensors to help older people and individuals with disabilities live more independently and safely at home, and telerehabilitation techniques to improve delivery of assistive technology services.


  • Tara Chandrasekhar, MD, is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. She is a staff psychiatrist at CAPS and provides clinical care and does research at the duke Center for Autism and Brain Development. She is co-chair of Duke Neurodiversity Connections, a working group of faculty, staff and students who aim to increase awareness and inclusion of neurodiversity on Duke’s campus. She is interested in supporting the mental health, academic, social and career needs of students who identify as neurodiverse.


  • James Chappel, PhD, is the Hunt Family Assistant Professor of History at Duke University. His main interest is in the intellectual history of modern Europe, focusing on themes of religion, welfare, and the family. His first book appeared from Harvard University Press in 2018 under the title Catholic Modern: The Challenge of Totalitarianism and the Remaking of the Churc He is also interested in the invention of “old age” as a category of cultural life, social-scientific expertise, and policymaking.


  • Susan Eastman, MDiv, PhD, is associate research professor of New Testament at Duke Divinity School. Ordained in the Episcopal Church, she served parishes in New York City, Alaska, Oregon, and Pennsylvania prior to coming to Duke. Her current research explores the formation and transformation of identity in the letters of Paul, in conversation with current work issues of human flourishing in science, psychology, and medical ethics. With a joint appointment in the biblical and ministerial divisions, Dr. Eastman teaches courses on the New Testament, the Bible in the church, Pauline anthropology, and preaching Paul’s letters.


  • Daniel Ellison, JD, is a Lecturing Fellow in Department of Theater Studies and an attorney in private practice in Durham, concentrating in arts law. He is a leading advocate for the arts throughout North Carolina. His earliest arts accessibility presentation was “Museums and the ADA,” presented at the 1992 annual conference of the NC Museums Council. He is a member of the Raleigh Arts Accessibility Learning Community and is a trained audio describer. He is the founder and director of the Durham Audio Described Art Project, and faculty advisor of Hoof ‘N Horn.


  • Jehanne Gheith, PhD, LCSW, is an Associate Professor of Russian Culture at Duke University and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker for Duke Hospice. She has a private psychotherapy practice in Aging, Illness, and Wellness Transitions with a specialization in Pet Loss. At Duke, she led the International Comparative Studies Program for nine years, together with Marcy Litle. Professor Gheith is interested in the intersection of narrative and loss; more recently, she has included the human-animal bond in this work. Her focus is on the intersection of story and loss and the richness that can come from exploring these connections in depth and in multiple dimensions. She is currently working on a book about the connections between her clinical work and her research in Russian literature.


  • Jennifer Hawkins, PhD, is an Associate Research Professor in the Department of Philosophy and a core member of Duke’s Trent Center for Bioethics, Humanities & History of Medicine. Her research area is ethics with a special interest in the philosophy of well-being, as well as disability. She has written about dementia, cognitive disability more generally, and mental illness. She regularly teaches an undergraduate course on the philosophy of disability here at Duke.


  • Kati Henderson, MA, is an educator at Duke Gardens. She teaches and coordinates interdisciplinary, experiential programs for all ages, knowledge bases, and learning goals – from water quality data collection to visual art practice to rooting in place through a connection to the people and plants of this land. Kati is interested in facilitating and participating in collaborative learning experiences and illuminating gray areas within contemporary academic and cultural categorization systems in order to build relationships and understandings beyond them. Among other threads, this includes expanding accessibility for learning through Duke Gardens.


  • Adam Hollowell serves as Senior Research Associate at the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity and Faculty Director of the Benjamin N. Duke Memorial Scholarship Program. He completed his Ph.D. and M.Th. in theological ethics at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland and his A.B. at Duke University, where he was a B.N. Duke Scholar. His teaching and research focus broadly on ethics, religion, race, and public policy. He is the author of Power and Purpose: Paul Ramsey and Contemporary Christian Political Theology, which was recommended for Best First Book Award, Society of Christian Ethics.


  • Barbara Hooper, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, is Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Duke University. Dr. Hooper earned her Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy from the Medical College of Georgia, a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy from Western Michigan University, and her PhD in Higher, Adult & Lifelong Education at Michigan State University. Before coming to Duke, she served as an Associate Professor and the Director for the Center for Occupational Therapy Education (COTE) at Colorado State University. She now serves as Founding Program Director and Division Chief for the Occupational Therapy Doctorate Division at Duke University School of Medicine.


  • Qin Hu, PhD, is a staff psychologist at Counseling and Psychological Services at Duke University. She is a member of the Neurodiversity Connections at Duke. Hu’s educational background includes a PhD in counseling psychology and a Master’s in school counseling. Her research interests focus on mental health professionals’ attitudes toward students with autism, as well as how the identity of being neurodiverse intersects with race and gender.


  • Rachel Ingold, has been Curator for the History of Medicine Collections at Duke since 2010. The History of Medicine Collections and the Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library include an array of rare books, manuscripts, instruments & artifacts documenting the history of health sciences. The Rubenstein Library has a wealth of materials reflecting both the history of science and history of medicine and welcome researchers to utilize their collections.


  • Deborah Jenson, PhD, is Professor of Romance Studies and Global Health at Duke University. She served as Director of the Franklin Humanities Institute (FHI) through 2017. She is the founder and co-director of the Duke Health Humanities Lab. Her work in post-revolutionary French and Haitian literature and culture has always engaged with trauma on a literary level, but after the Haitian earthquake of 2010, she began researching global mental health, cholera, and neurodiversity. She co-founded and co-directed the Duke Neurohumanities from 2012-2016, and co-leads the FHI/DIBS Neurohumanities Research Group. Her current health humanities work focuses on the Haitian role in the creation of ethnopsychiatry, and French novelists’ representations of their own health experiences in their characters’ bodies.


  • Ira King, MSLIS, is the Librarian for Disability Studies at the Duke University Libraries. He is also the Evening Reference Librarian and Supervisor at Lilly Library. He received his Master of Science in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2015. Ira is available to help with research consultations and library instruction sessions for classes. Contact Ira if there are any disability studies resources you would like to see added to the libraries’ collections.


  • Michel Landry, PhD, is a health policy and health services researcher, and global health practitioner. His area of current exploration is the interface between available supply (financial and human resources) and increasing demand for health and rehabilitation services across the continuum of care within the United States, Canada, and the global community.


  • Christopher Lunsford, MD, is Assistant Professor with a joint appointment in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and the Department of Pediatrics at Duke University. His current research interests include cerebral palsy, assistive and adaptive technology, disability studies in medicine and medical necessity.


  • Brett McCarty, ThD and MDiv, is the St. Andrews Fellow in Theology and Science at Duke Divinity School. Brett received his Th.D. and M.Div from Duke, and he went to Furman University as an undergraduate, where he majored in Religion and Mathematics-Economics. Brett’s current research project investigates the theological and scientific imaginaries that underlie the contemporary management of pain. Drawing from interviews in eastern Tennessee, his work explores how theology and scientific medicine can work together to assist those who are ill and in pain in making peace with their bodies, with others, and with God.


  • Sulochana Naidoo, PhD, is Associate Director of Global Education for Duke-NUS. She is responsible for all areas related to undergraduate medical education between Duke University School of Medicine and Duke-NUS Medical School (Singapore), including curriculum, advising and supporting Duke-NUS students at Duke, admissions, recruitment, and compliance with accreditation requirements.


  • Victoria Chibuogu Nneji, PhD, is a creative strategist and strategic creator passionate about mobility. She was born in Lagos, Nigeria and raised in Durham, NC, but grew up in New York City where she was a mathematician and entrepreneur at Columbia University. She led multiple simulation software products and teams in the Humans & Autonomy Lab for projects sponsored by both NASA and the US Department of Transportation. Victoria continues serving logistics and transportation clients in market, operations, and user experience research as founder and principal consultant at the creative strategy firm MAD Science.


  • Jules Odendahl-James, PhD, is an adjunct lecturer in Theater Studies at Duke University where she also serves as the Director of Academic Engagement for the Arts and Humanities. A professional theatre director and dramaturg, Jules specializes in work by women playwrights, developing new collaborations across the arts & the sciences, and creating performances about the lived experiences of illness from personal narratives/memoirs, interview materials, and adapted from fiction. She has taught courses in medical humanities at Duke such as Playing Doctor, Medical Stories on Stage, Performing Science, and Visual Cultures of Medicine.


  • Mark Olson, PhD, is Assistant Professor of the Practice of Visual & Media Studies at Duke University. He teaches courses on media (new & old – theory, practice, & history) and medicine & visual culture. As an extension of his past work with the MacArthur Foundation’s Digital Media & Learning Initiative, he collaborates on the development of a new interdisciplinary project that connects the study of the material culture of art history, architecture and archaeology with new media modes of representation and visualization. Olson is the former Director of New Media & Information Technologies for HASTAC (Humanties, Arts, Sciences & Technology Advanced Collaboratory) and the John Hope Franklin Center for Interdisciplinary & International Studies.


  • Neil Prose, MD, is a Professor of Pediatrics, Dermatology and Global Health, and co-director of the Duke Health Humanities Lab. He is a pediatric dermatologist who writes and teaches about empathetic patient-provider communication. He is creating a curriculum in respectful maternity care for midwives and health extension workers in Ethiopia, and for midwifery students in Chilean Patagonia. He is also making a documentary on housekeepers in the Duke Hospital.


  • Adam Rosenblatt, PhD, teaches in International Comparative Studies at Duke and writes about the intersections of human rights, social justice, and care of the dead. His first book, Digging for the Disappeared: Forensic Science after Atrocity (Stanford University Press, 2015), explores how scientific experts exhuming mass graves interact with international institutions, grieving families and their dead loved ones. His next book is about volunteers who reclaim neglected spaces of the dead, including African-American burial grounds and former mental hospital cemeteries.


  • Bryan Rusch is a PhD student in Art History, with a background in Mechanical Engineering and Arabic. These interests have made Bryan passionate about bringing together the humanities with technical knowledge and analyzing trends to find patterns and solutions. As an undergraduate, he researched German economic policies and construction trends. His doctoral research will consider physical accessibility and design in the Middle East.


  • Robert Sikorski, MA and JD, graduated from a Cleveland high school in 1967. He is executive director of International Studies and managing director of the John Hope Franklin Center. He is very interested in sustained psychiatric problems, optical injury and how the British soldiers of the First World War developed their understanding of what was happening to their bodies. Currently he is a faculty research associate in Cultural Anthropology.



  • Kearsley Stewart, PhD, joined Duke University in 2013 as Associate Professor of the Practice at the Duke Global Health Institute with a secondary appointment in Cultural Anthropology. She previously taught at Northwestern University, worked at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta as a behavioral scientist, and was a post-doctoral fellow at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies. Stewart’s research interests include research ethics of HIV/AIDS clinical trials in Africa and global health pedagogy. She currently teaches both graduate and undergraduate courses in global health research ethics, ethics of infectious disease, narrative methods in HIV/AIDS research, and qualitative global health research methods. She is co-director of the Duke Health Humanities Lab.


  • Andrew Toig, is a Duke Law student in the Class of 2020, and the founding president of Law Students for Accessibility. The group is dedicated to advocating on behalf of accessibility issues, providing professional development for students interested in careers involving disability issues, and is the only such group at the law school. Andrew was formerly a Social Studies teacher in Colorado public schools.


  • Marina Tsaplina is an interdisciplinary performing artist working in the field of the Medical/Health Humanities. Upon invitation by Deborah Jenson and Neil Proseshe performed and presented at the Breath Body Voice:Health Humanities and Social Justice conference in 2017, which is when an ongoing collaboration began with Raymond Barfield on the role of artistic practice in changing the culture and practice of medicine/healthcareShe became an Associate of the Trent Center for Bioethics, Humanities and History of Medicine in 2018 and served as co-director of the pilot of Reimagining Medicine, collaborating with Chair of Theater Studies Torry Bend and fellow Kienle Scholar in the Medical Humanities Jules Odendahl-James on Puppetry and Embodied Imagination.


  • Anna Tupetz is an MSc in Global Health candidate researching the phenomenon of “scarf injury” impacting young women in Bangladesh.


  • Priscilla Wald, PhD, teaches and works on U.S. literature and culture, particularly literature of the late-18th to mid-20th centuries, contemporary narratives of science and medicine, science fiction literature and film, law and literature, and environmental studies. Her current work focuses on the intersections among the law, literature, science and medicine. Professor Wald is currently Margaret Taylor Smith Director of the Program in Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies and is on the Faculty Governance Committee of Science and Society and the steering committee of IS&S (Information Sciences + Information Studies) at Duke.


  • Len White, PhD, is a neuroscientist and an educator in the Duke University School of Medicine and the Trinity College of Arts and Sciences. He has a faculty appointment in the Department of Neurology and the Department of Neurobiology. He is also co-director of the Duke Health Humanities Lab. Dr. White’s research interests encompass the development of functional neural circuits in the cerebral cortex and the impact of sensory experience and neurological disease on brain structure and function. He serves Duke as co-director of Bass Connections in Brain and Society, co-director of Undergraduate Studies in Neuroscience, associate director of the Master of Biomedical Sciences, and member of numerous committees.


  • Sarah Wilbur, PhD, is Associate Professor of the Practice of Dance at Duke University. She is a cross-sector choreographer and performance researcher who studies arts labor, economies, and institutional support principally in a US context. She brings a strong field orientation to bear on her academic research, including over twenty years of experience working across the uneven economies of concert dance, theatre, musical theater, opera, K-12 education, health care, and Veterans’ Affairs. Dr. Wilbur’s research and teaching together recognize the parity between dances that are performed and the aspects of dance making that are suppressed or ignored.


  • Brittany E. Wilson, PhD, is Assistant Professor of New Testament at Duke University Divinity School. She is a Regional Scholar for the Society of Biblical Literature and a recipient of the Kenneth Willis Clark Award for the Society of Biblical Literature-Southeast. Her current book, Unmanly Men: Refigurations of Masculinity in Luke-Acts(Oxford University Press, forthcoming), analyzes key male characters in Luke-Acts in relation to ancient constructions of masculinity and Luke’s emphasis on God’s power. Her next project focuses on portrayals of Jesus’ crucifixion across the fourfold Gospel and how these portrayals intersect with Christology and ancient gender norms.