There are 35 years of AAIDD journals on my bookshelves. Seven and a half linear feet, give or take a few inches for duplicates and issues borrowed but never returned. The first of these is a 1977 Mental Retardation (volume 15, no. 3). Implementation of Public Law 94-142 loomed large on the horizon and much of the issue focused on the potential for integrated education. The opening article was a faux courtroom transcript justifying citizenship rights for persons with intellectual disabilities. The closing piece was Edward Zigler's testimony to the Senate and House Appropriations Committee summarizing a 20-year history of intellectual disability research. I just placed volume 49 (5) on the shelf. The lead article was an exploration of disability identity among self-advocates. Disability identity. Self-advocates. A remarkable transformation in policies, practices, and perspectives is chronicled on that shelf.
I am in the enviable position of having Steven Taylor as my predecessor. Under his leadership, IDD embraced multiple different methodological traditions, styles of exposition, and contributors beyond the traditional academic research community. Unique in the inclusion of diverse voices, IDD is an important forum for the sometime raucous debates of our field. Dr. Taylor set the precedents that are the guide posts for the next stage of IDD's journey. I want to personally thank him for his mentorship over the years and his gracious assistance in the early months of my editorship.
Readers will note modest changes: organizing articles according to IDD's triparte focus on policies, practices, and perspectives and allocating more pages to articles by moving association minutes and abstracts to the AAIDD website. As in the past, we encourage manuscripts focused on the analysis of contemporary policy, either through empirical work or narrative policy analyses, and research that informs practice. The publication of rigorously peer reviewed manuscripts remains our central identity as an academic journal. In a departure from past issues, in form if not substance, is the expansion of perspective articles into article-length theoretical pieces, conceptual papers, and syntheses of literature. We encourage the submission of works of controversy and thoughtful risk taking. It is time to move beyond the “quantitative” and “qualitative” distinction that traditionally frames our perspectives on inquiry and expand and deepen our connections with scholarship in critical inquiry, historical narratives, philosophical investigation, and other disciplines not typically associated with IDD.
Our narratives are no longer dominated by the great debates over rights, community, and inclusion that threaded through that first issue on my shelf. This is progress. Yet the core themes are still resonant, stubbornly relevant decades later. What a wonderful challenge: refining the what, how, and why of our practice, articulating the relationship of a society to those in need of its supports, and seeking to understand and challenge the meanings of disability in our culture. There is room on my shelf. Please share your good works and grand ideas.
I end on a bittersweet note. Yvette Taylor is leaving after 39 years of service to the journals of AAIDD. A tough copyeditor, she has disciplined and improved the writing of a generation of our scholars, including this new IDD editor. I will miss her steady hand and good counsel.