A Brief Introduction to the Canadian Journal of Disability Studies

Michael J. Bergob, Managing Editor

With the advent of the Open Journal System, establishing a journal can seem like a rather simple task:  choose an area of interest, a name, some publication guidelines and perhaps an editorial board if required.  There are now hundreds of on-line journals and journals that have gone on-line and the choice of where to publish is complicated by the sheer weight of selections available.

When I was nominated and elected to be the Publications Officer of the Canadian Disability Studies Association-Association Canadienne des Études sur l'Incapacité  (CDSA-ACEI) at their Annual General Meeting in 2009, I was thrilled to be given the task of “investigating the possibility of establishing a peer-review journal.”  The CDSA-ACEI is dedicated to “Providing a forum for the exchange of ideas and scholarship regarding disability, Net-working among individual members, community groups, and other academic organizations, and Maintaining and building a commitment to a scholarship that remains connected to, informed by, and in ongoing dialogue with community and consumer organizations and agencies.”  Of particular importance in developing the journal would be to address the “central value of the CDSA-ACEI to bring uniquely Canadian perspectives into the global scholarship that is currently growing regarding disability issues and disability rights.”

From the outset, the quality of the journal would need to be exemplary as it would represent the CDSA-ACEI and our commitment to developing the field of disability studies.  I spent time investigating which journals were at the top of their respective academic fields and their standards for publication.  There was also the desire for the journal to remain dedicated to the concept of promoting “the ‘Nothing About Us Without Us’ approach to research and scholarship.”   In other words, the CDSA-ACEI intends “to maintain a firm commitment to supporting research and scholarship which is fully inclusive of and informed by the perspectives of people with disabilities” and our journal represents our dedication to that intent.

The process that unfolded over the next two years deserves somewhat more than a comment but a little less than a dissertation and so I will limit myself to expressing my gratitude to the people who made the Canadian Journal of Disability Studies possible:  Dawna Lee Rumball for her incredible support and guidance through this process.  We have actually never met in person but developed a working relationship and friendship through hundreds of e-mails working out the details, problems, concerns, politics, and life events that we shared.  The work on this journal was seldom an easy task but it was always a labour of love as we both were dedicated to seeing the establishment of this journal.  Here it is Dawna Lee, here it is.  Thank you.

This journal would also not be without our Journal Editor Jay Dolmage.  He not only lived up to his reputation but has exceeded anything we could have expected from one person in the time-frame we had set.  Jay was instrumental in setting up the theme for our first issue:  “What is Canadian Disability Studies?” and in establishing our publication guidelines, establishing the Editorial Board and sorting through the academic papers submitted for publication.  The list of other tasks he took on and accomplished can best be acknowledged by the quality of the journal you are about to read.  He continues to work on other projects associated with the journal to develop it as the flagship publication on disability studies in Canada.  Thank you, Jay.

Many other people contributed to the development of the journal in a myriad of ways – Marcy Epstein, Gregor Wolbring, Roy Hanes, Andre Elias Mazawi, and Christopher Longtin who suggested the name for the journal that we selected:  The Canadian Journal of Disability Studies. To each of you, thank you for your unique contribution to the reality of this journal.

On a personal note, in 1995 I left both my job and doctoral studies due to a developing disability and associated health issues.  Attempts to resume either education or employment were unsuccessful and this year I retired due to disability having just turned 50 years old.  One memory of my brief time as a doctoral student I would like to share with you is a comment made by Wallace Clement at a seminar where he addressed the question:  what is a graduate student?  His response, to the best of my memory, is that a graduate student is someone who evolves from being a consumer of knowledge to being the producer of knowledge.  The realization of this journal is such an evolution.  Thank you for the opportunity and for your support.


Michael J. Bergob, MA,

Managing Editor, The Canadian Journal of Disability Studies

Publications Officer, CDSA-ACEI