About Corbett O'Toole

Corbett O'Toole

© Erin Anthony

Corbett Joan OToole, a disability community elder, influences generations of disabled artists, scholars, and activists through her writing, artwork, mentoring and public speaking. Corbett was named a 2022 Disability Futures Fellow. (See a New York Times article about the Fellows)

She lives full-time in her adapted van, Rolling Joy, traveling as an uninvited settler on the lands cared for by generations of Native peoples.

She loves fiercely, laughs loudly, and works tirelessly for the survival of disabled people.

For speaking or consultation requests:

Highlights

Photos

(Click on the photo to enlarge or for more information)

A young girl leans against a small concrete wall. She is wearing a dark colored dress with white trim and is holding crutches under her arms.
Family photo of Corbett at age 5 standing outside. She wears a long coat and white cap. She wears leg braces and uses wooden crutches.
Corbett looks over her shoulder
Corbett O'Toole (© Scot Goodman)
Five women wearing t-shirts that say "Bay Area Meteorites" laugh as they sit in manual wheelchairs.
Five women wheelchair basketball players laugh together between games. (© Joan Bobkoff)
Corbett O'Toole head shot
Corbett O'Toole 2022 (© Erin Anthony)
A gold circle is behind the head of a woman with short gray hair and wearing a pink sleeveless top.
Corbett O'Toole (© Kathryn Hack)
A white woman sits in a wheelchair holding a Asian toddler between her legs.
Corbett and Meecha in Beijing 1995. (© Suzanne Levine)
Sepiatone photo closeup of Corbett. Her left hand makes the ASL sign for lesbian - an "L" hand shape across her chin. She is light skinned, has long dark hair, wears ivory earrings and an ivory woman necklace.
Corbett making the ASL sign for lesbian. (© Tee Corinne)
Corbett O'Toole head shot
Corbett O'Toole

One Sentence Bio

Corbett Joan OToole is a white queer disability community elder, artist and author of the groundbreaking Fading Scars: My Queer Disability History, a Lambda Literary Award finalist.

Bio, Community Scholar

Her scholarship includes academic writing and presentations, creating art pieces to honor disability histories, and sharing her extensive lived knowledge of U.S. disability histories.

She co-organized the first international Queer Disability Conference.

Her fiber art focuses on disability histories and received a one-woman show at the San Francisco Art Institute.

The Oscar-nominated film Crip Camp features her as a disability history expert.

Active in developing and supporting disabled dancers, her first joyful impromptu dance with her young disabled daughter was recorded in the film The Story of Mothers and Daughters. She and disabled poet Cheryl Marie Wade midwifed the Axis Dance Company.

A white woman sits in a wheelchair holding a Asian toddler between her legs.

Corbett and her daughter Meecha at the Fourth World Conference on Women and the first International Symposium on Issues of Women with Disabilities in Beijing in 1995. (© Suzanne Levine)

Bio, Public

She had the privilege to be part of Berkeley, California disability communities for pivotal moments in disability history including: 1977 occupation of the San Francisco Federal Building also known as the 504 Sit-In; the early days of Berkeley Center for Independent Living and the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, Inc.

She’s organized historic gatherings on disabled women, disabled queers, disabled parents, and disability studies.

She co-created Free to Pee, a hackathon project, as well as designing and consulting on many design projects.

She travels across the U.S. in her self-designed accessible camper van Rolling Joy and organized an online dance for her 70th birthday.

Archives

Corbett O'Toole Papers

My archives of decades of disability history are housed at the San Francisco History Center/Special Collections. The Bancroft library at University of California, Berkeley contains an extensive oral history.

Online Archive of California
San Francisco Public Library

The design of this page borrows heavily from Aimi Hamraie’s website which models accessibility.