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Disability Empowerment for Yale (DEFY) is Yale’s only undergraduate advocacy and affinity organization for students with disabilities. We work on behalf of the hundreds of students navigating their time at this University with a disability. Our membership includes Yalies with physical disabilities, mental illnesses, chronic illnesses, temporary disabilities, sensory disabilities, addictions & substance dependencies, and learning disabilities, as well as New Haven community members with disabilities. 

DEFY’s vision is to make Yale more accessible and welcoming to students with disabilities, both physical and mental, chronic and temporary.

Primary Goals

Start a Conversation: Bring to light the issues surrounding disability to empower students, faculty, and staff to understand what it means to live and learn with a disability at Yale and to make this community more inclusive.

Foster a Community: Develop a robust, intersectional coalition of disabled people and allies to advocate for the disabled community, create networks of support, host events, facilitate conversations, and invite experts and advocates to campus to raise awareness.

DEFY is fighting for

  • An equitable University response to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Greater accessibility in Yale coursework, dining, transit, health services & extracurricular activities 
  • An academic program for Disability Studies
  • A cultural center for students with disabilities which uplifts the voices of our community, hosts disability-related initiatives and events, and furthers the social model of disability
  • Improved resources for students with disabilities
  • The continued success of the newly imagined DPMP and the pilot Disability Peer Liaison (PL) Program

Sign up to receive emails from DEFY here or by emailing Communications Director Tilly Brooks at tilly.brooks@yale.eduTo join our GroupMe workspace, where members share resources & support and communicate more regularly about the status of advocacy projects, click here.


March 30, 2022
“In three short years, registrations for Yale’s Student Accessibility Services have nearly doubled. Yet this number is likely two to three times lower than the actual number...
March 10, 2022
Breaking news on the lifting of the campus-wide mask mandate. Joaquín comments: “Joaquín Lara Midkiff ’24, former president of Disability Empowerment for Yale, told the News...
February 22, 2022
The YDN reports on DEFY’s efforts to make hybrid learning accommodations availabe for students with disabilities in light of the dynamic COVID-19 landscape on campus: “...