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Fading Scars: My Queer Disability History

Corbett Joan OTooleFading Scars Front Cover

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Uncovering stories about disability history and life, OToole shares her firsthand account of some of the most dramatic events in Disability History, and gives voice to those too often yet left out. From the 504 Sit-in and the founding of the Center for Independent Living in Berkeley, to the Disability Forum at the International Woman’s Conference in Beijing; through dancing, sports, queer disability organizing and being a disabled parent, OToole explores her own and the disability community’s power and privilege with humor, insight and honest observations.

“Corbett Joan OToole’s Fading Scars: My Queer Disabled History is like a song-an anthem, a lullaby, a ballad, a love lyric and a chant all at once. This book of essays chronicles one person’s life, but also the 40 years that disability rights and disability justice shaped American history. Its first-person accounts of historical events, fierce focus on disabled identities, and consistently accessible language and structure make it unusual-perhaps even unique-among disability memoirs. Bursting with ideas, stories, and arguments, Fading Scars is a book in which experience accrues into knowledge and emerges through the written word as wisdom. Fading Scars combines razor-sharp organization with passages of lyrical beauty. It establishes a new standard, perhaps even the beginning of a new aesthetic, for disability writing.” – Margaret Price, author of Mad at School: Rhetorics of Mental Disability and Academic Life.

“Illuminating disability history with clear and funny stories, this book builds a home where those of us who have lived on the sidelines can seek shelter.” – Naomi Ortiz, Writer, Artist and Disability Justice Activist

“Fading Scars is a must read for those interested in disability community, activism, and scholarship.” – Kim Nielsen, author of A Disability History of the United States (ReVisioning American History)

Anthologies and Collections

Corbett OToole has contributed to the following anthologies and collections (full citations provided):

O’Toole, C.J. & Wadle, D.M. (2014). Queer Disabled Women: Health Care for All. In Miles-Cohen, S. & Signore, C. (Eds.) From Inequity to Equity: Improving the Health and Well-being of Women with Disabilities. American Psychological Association Books. Forthcoming.

O’Toole, C.J. (2014). Disabled Parents, Disabled Kids: Interviews with six mothers. In Hipchen, E. and Fedosik, M. (Eds). A Collection of Essays on Adoption and Disability. Forthcoming.

O’Toole, C.J. (2010). Deaf Man Wheelchair: How Dale Dahl Brought the Deaf Community to the Center for Independent Living in Berkeley.  In Burch, S. & Kafer, A. (Eds.), Deaf Meets Disability. Washington, D.C.: Gallaudent University Press.

O’Toole, C.J. & Wadle, D.M. (2009).  I Feel So Vulnerable: Lesbians with disabilities. In Robertson, P. & Dibble, S. (Eds). Lesbian Health 101. San Francisco: UCSF Nursing Press.

O’Toole, C.J. (2008) DisAbled Women’s Network, Canada. In Susan Burch (Ed.) Encyclopedia of Disability American History. Facts on File.

O’Toole, C.J., Mona, L.R. et al (2005) Queering Disabled: Multiple Sexual Identities and Expressions among People with Disabilities.  In Fassinger, R.E. & Morrow, S.L. (Eds.) Sex in the Margins: Erotic Lives of Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual People. (In press)

O’Toole, C.J. (2004) The Sexist Inheritance of the Disability Movement. In Bonnie G. Smith & Beth Hutchison (Eds.) Gendering Disability. Rutgers University Press, NJ. (earlier version is available at

O’Toole, C.J. (2002). “Assistive Technologies’ Importance in Health Care.” In Community Resources for Assistive Technology’Is It Working? A Review of AT Successes and Barriers.

O’Toole, C.J. (1999). A Child of Two Countries. In M. Wates and R. Jade (Eds.) Bigger than the Sky: Disabled Women on Mothering. London: The Women’s Press.

O’Toole, C.J., Sygall, S., Lewis, C. (1997). Integrating People with Disabilities into International Exchange Programs, 3rd Edition (1997). Eugene, OR: MIUSA.

O’Toole, C.J. (1996). Disabled Lesbians: Challenging Monocultural Constructs. In Knotoski, Nosek & Turk (Eds.) Women with Physical Disabilities. London: Paul Brookes Publishing.

O’Toole, C.J. & Bregante, J.L. (1993). Disabled lesbians.  In M. Nagler (Ed.) Perspectives on Disability (2nd ed).  Palo Alto, CA: Health Markets Research.

O’Toole, C.J. & Bregante, J. (1992).  Disabled women: The myth of the asexual female.  In S. Klein (Ed.) Sex equity and sexuality in education. Albany, NY: SUNY Albany Press.

Corbett, K., & Froschl, M.  (1983)  Access to the future: Serving disabled young women. In S. Davidson (Ed.) The second mile: Contemporary approaches in counseling young women. Tucson, AZ: New Directions for Young Women.