Just Human: The Quest for Disability Wisdom, Respect, and Inclusion

In my memoir, I describe growing up as a blind woman, learning to come to terms with ableism, and then working toward the goal of disability justice.

One reader said: “This was a remarkable book. The author, blind since birth, a phD social psychologist, describes what she learned growing up combined with what she’s learned as a scholar and researcher. From her vivid descriptions of bullying in middle school, to finding love, to learning to get on in the world, to attaining her dream job, the book draws you in . Her insights apply not just to how people with visual impairment are regarded by the able bodied population but also to those with other disabilities and indeed those who for whatever reason ( skin color, ethnicity, gender, etc) may be subject to bias and discrimination. She asks that people regard her not with pity for her impairment and not place her on a pedestal ( as a source of inspiration) but regard her as ‘just human’ and relate to her by listening and withholding judgement . For someone so young ( 36), her wisdom is remarkable. The book is well written and very readable. She makes very difficult concepts fully understandable, and she communicates her passions, successes and her frustrations very effectively. As a pediatrician who has worked with kids with all sorts of disabilities, I think it will aid parents and clinicians in adopting more helpful approaches to use. Her insights about bias and discrimination and “deescalation” in the broader society are also worthy of pondering.”

Buy the book on Amazon here

Learn how to buy accessible PDF, audio, and braille formats here


Putting out the fire: Dissecting and dismantling the dynamics of restraint and seclusion

I delivered this webinar for the Alliance Against Seclusion and Restraint, a nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing restraint and seclusion in schools and ending the school-to-prison pipeline. In this presentation, I  mapped the dynamic co-escalation process that can lead people in power to resort to extreme methods of exerting control over people with less power. After examining the process and the factors that make it more likely to play out with disabled, Black and brown students, I present three points in the process when de-escalating, non-punitive intervention is possible.

Watch the video with captions here

Listen to the podcast or read the transcript here

Download the slide deck here

Prescribing disability pride

At the 2019 Society for Developmental Pediatrics annual meeting, three of my colleagues and I shook things up with a presentation about disability pride, language preferences, intersectionality, neurodiversity, disability culture, and more.

Read more and download the slides here

Disability wisdom and Jewish collectivity: Inclusion as a Jewish imperative

In 2019, my colleague Lisa Handelman and I presented at the Judaism, Science and Medicine group’s annual conference about the five stages of inclusion from a Jewish lens.

Read more and download the slides here

URJ Webinars

In 2014, I prepared two training webinars for the Union for Reform Judaism’s Disabilities Inclusion Learning Center.

View them here:

Disabilities Inclusion Webinars

Fact Sheets

I prepared a fact sheet advising healthcare providers on respectful interactions with patients who have disabilities. View and download it here:

Disability Stigma and Your Patients

A second fact sheet advises healthcare providers on ways to make medical facilities more accessible:

How to Make Healthcare Accessible for All

Research Publications

Open-access journal Articles:

Much of my research has critiqued the use of disability simulations as educational tools. I describe some of these issues and propose alternative methods of teaching about blindness in this article:

Read about the problems with blindness simulation here

Another study illustrates the benefits of braille literacy for legally blind adults:

Read about the importance of braille here

Other journal Articles:

I also have several other peer-reviewed journal articles about the psychology of disability. Contact Me for copies of these publications:

Silverman, A. M., Bell, E. C., & Mendez, M. A. (in press). Understanding the employment experiences of Americans who are legally blind. Journal of Rehabilitation.

Bell, E. C. & Silverman, A. M. (2018). Rehabilitation and employment outcomes for Americans who are blind or visually impaired: An updated report. Journal of Blindness Innovation and Research, 8:1.

Silverman, A. M., Molton, I. R., Smith, A. E., Jensen, M. P., & Cohen, G. L. (2017). Solace in solidarity: Disability friendship networks buffer well-being. Rehabilitation Psychology, Apr 10.

Silverman, A. M., Pitonyak, J. S., Nelson, I. K., Matsuda, P., Kartin, D., & Molton, I. R. (2017). Instilling positive beliefs about disabilities: Pilot testing a novel experiential learning activity for rehabilitation students. Disability and Rehabilitation, Feb 25.

Silverman, A. M., Verrall, A., Alschuler, K. N., Smith, A. E., & Ehde, D. M. (2016). Bouncing back again, and again: A qualitative study of resilience in people aging with multiple sclerosis. Disability and Rehabilitation, Feb 15, 1-9.

Silverman, A. M., Molton, I. R., Alschuler, K. N., Ehde, D. & Jensen, M. P. (2015). Resilience predicts functional outcomes in people aging with physical disabilities: A longitudinal investigation. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 96, 1262-1268. DOI: 10.1016/j.apmr.2015.02.023.

Silverman, A. M., Gwinn, J. D., & Van Boven, L. (2015). Stumbling in their shoes: Disability simulations reduce judged capabilities of disabled people. Social Psychological And Personality Science, 6, 4464-471. DOI: 10.1177/1948550614559650.

Wang, K., Silverman, A. M., Gwinn, J. D., & Dovidio, J. (2015). Independent or ungrateful? Consequences of confronting patronizing treatment for people with disabilities. Group Processes and Intergroup Relations, 18, 489-503. DOI: 10.1177/1368430214550345.

Silverman, A. M. & Cohen, G. (2014). Stereotypes as stumbling-blocks: How stereotype threat affects life outcomes for people with physical disabilities. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 40, 1330-40. doi: 10.1177/0146167214542800.