Graduate Student Profiles

Cameron Crawford

Cam Crawford is a PhD graduate (2016) from the CDIS program at York, and is currently doing postdoctoral work. He has been involved in the field of disability as an analyst and researcher since the mid-1970’s and has produced hundreds of reports, papers and presentations. He served in various senior capacities at The Roeher Institute and the Institute for Research and Development on Inclusion and Society, both national “think tanks” on disability, human rights and inclusion. He has worked extensively with disability organizations, academics, policy experts outside of academia and government officials at the federal and provincial levels. Cam’s PhD research was on the conditions that most strongly predict whether people with disabilities will obtain “decent work” rather than have no paid work at all after the advent of work-limiting disability. His postdoctoral research is following up by examining how public policy, programs and service delivery can be built upon to increase the likelihood that disabled people will make the transition from joblessness and underemployed to decent work. He is developing a robust statistical measure of decent work that reflects the International Labour Organization’s thinking on this subject. He is conducting scoping research on the prevalence of decent work with a focus on people’s job characteristics, and on the individual and social factors that help account for how people obtained such jobs. Pending funding, he will design an online survey and conduct one-to-one interviews on the cultural and organizational factors in workplaces that incentivize and lend support to the hiring, retention and career advancement of disabled people in decent work.

Research Interests: Disability, Employment, Human Rights, Social Inclusion, Canadian Public Policy, Social Policy, Political Economy.

PhD Supervisors: Isabel Killoran (York U – Education), Thomas Klassen (York U – Political Science; Public Policy and Administration), Robert Brown (Toronto District School Board –  Statistical Methods)

Postdoctoral Supervisor: Marcia Rioux (York U – Health Policy & Management; Human Rights; Jurisprudence and Public Policy)

Award Received: Joseph-Armand Bombardier CGS Doctoral Scholarship (SSHRC), 2010 – 2012


Estée Klar

Estée is the Founder and Director of The Autism Acceptance Project, www.taaproject.com as well as a Researcher/Director for The A School – a community school for social justice in education. Her doctoral research explores language/semiotics, the history of autism, meaning, and pedagogy.


Marian MacGregor

Marian MacGregor, B.A. (Hons), L.L.B., M.A. (Critical Disability Studies) has been the Clinic Director of Community and Legal Aid Services Program (CLASP) since 2008. Since her Call to the Bar in 1997 she has worked exclusively in community legal clinics. Marian was granted the 2011 Law Foundation Community Leadership in Justice Fellowship during which she developed a clinical program focusing in disability law in partnership with ARCH. Marian received her M.A. in Critical Disability Studies in the Fall of 2013. Marian is also a current PhD student in the Critical Disability Studies where she will focus on how disability is constructed and discussed using critical discourse analysis at the Supreme Court of Canada and where and how that intersects with the disability movement/advocacy.


Yvonne Simpson

Yvonne Simpson is a PhD candidate at York University, Faculty of Health Policy Management. Currently she works as a research assistant in the Centre for Human Rights and as a part-time faculty member at Seneca College. She holds a Master’s Degree in Education from the University of Calgary with a specialization in Community Rehabilitation and Disability Studies as well as a certificate in rehabilitation counselling. She has worked as an educator, practitioner and advocate in the disabilities field for many years, and has held various leadership roles in the private sector insurance industry, public sector education and social service agencies.

As a social justice advocate, Yvonne has worked to build strategic alliances with workplace stakeholders including academic and non-academic administrators, employees, unions, and external business partners. As a graduate student, her research focuses on human rights and social justice in the context of acquired workplace disability among immigrant workers. Her dissertation occurs at the intersection of race, immigration and WSIB policies.

Research Interests: Immigrant Workers, Acquired Disability, Race, Intersectionality, WSIB, Immigration Policy

Supervisor: Rachel Gorman


Hilda Smith

Hilda is a PhD student in the Critical Disability Studies program. As a disability researcher and activist her main areas of interest are the creation of clear and accessible documents for people with cognitive difficulties and the use of knowledge mobilization to increase awareness of disability scholarship and activism. Hilda is particularly focused on the outputs of knowledge mobilization and how these can be measured to ensure the greatest impacts happen.

Research Interests: Knowledge Mobilization, Learning Disabilities, Cognitive Disability, Clear Language, Accessible Documents


Natalie Spagnuolo

Natalie's research is primarily in the area of medical decision-making and knowledge production and the role of economic factors in these processes. Current projects consider the ways in which historical constructions of intelligence and productivity have affected the provision and regulation of social services. Her research is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and has been published in Histoire sociale/Social History and the Canadian Journal of Disability Studies.

Research Interests: Disability History, Canadian Social Policy, Interdependency, Political Economy, Eugenics, Critical Theory, Historiography

Supervisors: Geoffrey Reaume, Jennifer Stephen (History), and Ravi Malhotra (University of Ottawa)


Douglas Waxman

Douglas Waxman is a Ph.D. candidate in the Critical Disability Studies program at York University. He has a Juris Doctor from Osgoode Hall Law School, and Masters in Public Administration at Wagner School of Public Service at New York University.  He has an interdisciplinary grounding in human rights, social policy and critical theory, informed by sociology, psychology, law and history. His work has included a range of policy research including social policy, employment policy, education policy and disability policy.

Douglas has practiced law, was the National Insolvency Manager at Price Waterhouse (now PricewaterhouseCoopers), and has published on Insolvency and commodity tax issues. He has 15 years business experience in the environmental industry.

He has fifteen years of progressive voluntary policy, management and governance experience in various roles with the Learning Disability Association of Ontario (LDAO), ranging from working on various Committees, to ultimately being President of LDAO.

Research Interests: Disability, Employment, Corporate Culture, Attitudinal Barriers, Discrimination, Social Policy, Human Rights

Supervisor: Marcia Rioux