Fran Odette is an author, educator, and advocate for the rights of women with disabilities. While studying social work at Carleton University in the late 1980s, she was the only student in her class with a visible disability. This experience and the lack of literature exploring the intersection of gender and disability drove her to a life of advocacy for women with disabilities.
“It has taken some years to recognize the expertise marginalized populations, deaf and disabled women, bring to the conversation. You aren’t the expert of our lives, we are the experts of our lives.”
In 1990, Odette became involved in the DisAbled Women’s Network (DAWN) where she studied political and social barriers to accessing resources and support. She has consulted on provincial policies to improve access to support, managed programs at Springtide Resources, and worked on the Barrier Free Health Program Advisory Committee at the Anne Johnston Health Station. As a member of the LGBTQ community, she sat on the Education Committee of the Rainbow Health Network. Odette also sat on the Family Service Toronto Board and serves as the President of Nellie’s Women’s Shelter. She co-authored The Ultimate Guide to Sex and Disability (2003).
Odette continues to promote awareness and positive attitudes about sexuality in the lives of those with disabilities, and to support women and children who are victims of violence. Currently, she is a faculty member at George Brown College, where she co-designed a new course called “Disability Discourse: The Experienced Life.”