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He has a graduate degree from the University of Chicago. Charlton has been Director of Programs, Executive Vice President and Acting President of Access Living since 1985. Charlton is an assistant professor in the Department of Disability and Human Development at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is a member of the Chicago Transit Authority's board of directors.
In 2000, he published the book Nothing about us without us: disability oppression and empowerment.
Charlton authored the journal article Peripheral Everywhere about disabled persons as "double outcast".
- Nothing About Us Without Us.
- Charles A. Riley (2005). Disability and the media: prescriptions for change. UPNE. ISBN 978-1-58465-473-5.
- "Department of Disability and Human Development -". Archived from the original on June 22, 2010. Retrieved October 17, 2010.
- Nothing about us without us: disability oppression and empowerment. University of California Press. 2000. ISBN 978-0-520-22481-0.
- Charlton, James I. (2010). "Peripheral Everywhere" (abstract). Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies. 4 (2): 195–200. doi:10.3828/jlcds.2010.15. ISSN 1757-6458. S2CID 201765277. Retrieved October 17, 2010.