All I know is that I am a person who enjoys being around people and being able to be in charge of myself and not being told how to do things—I can do that for myself.
– Deb, “Being Me”
from Our Greatest and Whole World
1 in 50 peers we all were born alongside has a developmental disability, like Down syndrome or autism. Yet how many of our daily interactions reflect this? Despite progress since the days of Willowbrook, adults with disabilities still live in disproportionate segregation and inequity. This sequestering of unique gifts and perspectives is a loss to us all.
A common response is that we need to give people with developmental disabilities more opportunities to integrate into society—and this is true. Yet simply doing that is like integrating the Jim Crow South and failing to replace racism with new notions like multiculturalism. True inclusion takes changing mindsets. What we need is a new way to think about disability.
Cow Tipping Press applies lean startup principles to create just that—an opportunity to relish assets rather than pity deficits of our peers with disabilities through the unique lens of creative writing.
We teach inclusive writing classes for adults with developmental disabilities (over 400 alums and counting), a radical chance to speak for themselves in a medium usually used to speak about them. Students then share these distinct voices with audiences across time and place, in person and in print. 85% of audiences cite that Cow Tipping authors change their fundamental perspective on disability. That’s even true of our pool of college-aged teachers, a number of whom we’ve pipelined into full-time work in this important field.
Cow Tipping Press has won awards from Grinnell College, Teach For America, and 4.0 Schools. Our books have been used as diversity education tools in classrooms across the country. And our authors have parlayed their skills into blogging and public speaking opportunities, a scholarship to the Aspen Ideas Festival, inclusion in national publications, a spinoff podcast, and teaching and leadership roles within our program (nothing about us without us!).
You can take on a part of this important work by referring a partner organization or individual to Cow Tipping Press or making a donation of any amount. Even better, take a minute to consider the dynamism and assets of that neighbor, coworker, or classmate with a developmental disability. In the words of one advocate, “So much of the battle with inclusion involves rethinking what is possible.”
Cow Tipping Press is fiscally sponsored by the 501c3 nonprofit Springboard for the Arts. Our budget is comprised of earned revenue and donations. All donations are tax deductible. Authors earn 33% from sale of their work—more than double standard publishing practices. We use the remaining 67% to further our mission, realizing that to make sustainable impact we must run a financially sustainable organization.