The University of Houston has over 500 registered student organizations, but none of them stuck out to me quite like “Nothing About Us Without Us” (US). US is an organization devoted to disability inclusion on campus and recipient of the 2021 best new organization award by the University of Houston.
Nothing About Us Without Us is open to all majors and interests, but has most recently been focusing on arts-related events and causes. Last spring, they hosted their first ever “Ableism is a Drag” show, hosted by disabled drag queens from across the state in honor of Autism Acceptance/Awareness month. The show was not only an amazing opportunity for performers, but for students as well, allowing them to see themselves lifted up and respectfully represented. This is a type of representation rarely afforded to those with disabilities.
Nothing About Us Without Us also started an initiative for sensory-friendly performances within the School of Theatre and Dance here at UH. Since 2021, most main stage productions put up by the SoTD have had a sensory-friendly performance hosted by US. Sensory-friendly performances are shows that subdue technical elements to help prevent overstimulation, present content warnings, provide tools and space for neurodivergent patrons to stim and if any other accessibility aids are requested by audience members US members will make that happen. These shows have changed the way theater is enjoyed and opened opportunities for a whole new audience. Theater should not be something only enjoyed by the able-bodied and neurotypical, and US is making that change for UH students.
How to get involved
US was founded with the goal to include. Inclusion of people with disabilities, chronic illness, and neurodivergent individuals should never be an afterthought, and Nothing About Us Without Us is making that happen. You can keep up with US on Get Involved or Instagram, @nothingaboutuswithoutus.