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Young Adult Nonfiction Special Needs

The Disability Experience

Working Toward Belonging

by (author) Hannalora Leavitt

illustrated by Belle Wuthrich

Orca Book Publishers
Initial publish date
Apr 2021
Special Needs, Civil & Human Rights, Physical Impairments
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Apr 2021
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2021
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 12 to 18
  • Grade: 8 to 12
  • Reading age: 12 to 18


People with disabilities (PWDs) have the same aspirations for their lives as you do for yours.

The difference is that PWDs don’t have the same access to education, employment, housing, transportation and healthcare in order to achieve their goals. In The Disability Experience you’ll meet people with different kinds of disabilities, and you'll begin to understand the ways PWDs have been ignored, reviled and marginalized throughout history. The book also celebrates the triumphs and achievements of PWDs and shares the powerful stories of those who have fought for change.

The epub edition of this title is fully accessible.

About the authors

Hannalora Leavitt is a writer living in Victoria, British Columbia. She lost most of her vision by the age of 12 due to cancer and spent two years at a residential school for the blind, where she lived and learned alongside her blind peers. She works to demystify disability through her writing and public speaking, with her loyal guide dog, Ogden, at her side. Hannalora holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Victoria. The Disability Experience is her first book.


Hannalora Leavitt's profile page

Belle Wuthrich is an illustrator and designer specializing in books for young readers. Based in Vancouver, Belle has contributed to more than a dozen books for kids, a number of which have won awards or been republished internationally, including the Montaigne Medal Award–winning Eyes and Spies: How You’re Tracked and Why You Should Know and the Silver Birch Award nominee Eat Up: An Infographic Exploration of Food.

Belle Wuthrich's profile page


  • Commended, IBBY Outstanding Books for Young People with Disabilities
  • Commended, International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) Selection of Outstanding Books for Young People with Disabilities - Portrayals of Disability
  • Commended, NCSS-CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Books List
  • Short-listed, Vancouver Children’s Literature Roundtable Information Book Award
  • Commended, OLA Top Ten Best Bets
  • Commended, Children’s Book Council & National Council for Social Studies Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People
  • Commended, Ontario Library association (OLA) Best Bets
  • Short-listed, Information Book Award
  • Commended, bc
  • Commended, BC Books for BC Schools

Editorial Reviews

“A candid introduction to the multifaceted experiences of people with disabilities.”

Kirkus Reviews

“Easy-to-follow...Offers readers who have little knowledge of people with disabilities a crash course in understanding – rather than fearing – the unfamiliar.”

Quill & Quire

“Leavitt has created more than just an informative introduction to disability—this book is a compelling disability experience that ensnares readers in the lives of real people with real disabilities living their lives just like anyone else. Amidst the real-life accounts and definitions, the author emphasizes the social model, the idea that society's lack of understanding and accommodations is the disabling factor. This is a comprehensive, eye-opening disability primer.”

Kara Dorris, PhD, visiting assistant professor of English at Illinois College

“The book would be useful for reports, but its strength is a narrative voice that asks readers to contemplate another point of view…A strong…introduction to disabilities.”

School Library Journal (SLJ)

“An engaging, conversational writing style...The Disability Experience does an excellent job of explaining the disability experience and should be required reading for all teens (and adults, too). Highly Recommended.”

CM: Canadian Review of Materials

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