Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Disability notes

As the years go by, fewer and fewer Americans will appreciate the fact that their forebears were quite happy to elect a handicapped person as president of the United States. We cannot allow the memory of FDR's disability to fade even more. A full picture of this extraordinary American political leader must be given.

We must grasp the fact that every day the president could not get out of bed, get dressed, reach the bathroom or get to his desk without the assistance of another person and a wheelchair. He was totally dependent upon both.
~Curtis Roosevelt, about his grandfather

I'm reading Introducing Disability Studies by Ronald J. Berger and I used a lot of wee sticky notes on the first couple chapters.

Quotes I marked while I was reading:
...impairment refers to a biological or physiological condition that entails the loss of physical, sensory, or cognitive function, and disability refers to an inability to perform a personal or socially necessary task because of that impairment or the societal reaction to it.


...For instance, people who use a wheelchair for mobility due to a physical impairment may only be socially disabled if the buildings to which they require access are architecturally inaccessible. Otherwise, there may be nothing about the impairment that would prevent them from participating fully in the educational, occupational, and other institutional activities of society. Or take the case of visual impairment. Nowadays people who wear eyeglasses or contacts don’t even think of themselves as having an impairment, because these corrective devices have become commonplace. But if it were not for these technological aids, which are now taken for granted, their visual impairments might also be disabilities.


Take the case of facial scarring or disfigurement, “which is a disability of appearance only, a disability constructed totally by stigma and cultural meanings."


All this is to say that it is important to understand “disability” as a social phenomenon, an experience that cannot be reduced to the nature of the physiological impairment. Rather, it is a product of societal attitudes and the social organization of society.


Indeed, most anyone who lives long enough can expect to have an experience with disability before they die. Joseph Shapiro adds that fewer than 15 percent of those who are disabled are actually born with their impairment, and therefore anyone at any time, “as a result of a sudden automobile accident, a fall down a flight of stairs,” or the acquisition of a serious illness, can join the ranks of people with disabilities.


Internationally, the World Health Organization (2011) reported that in 2010 there were more than one billion disabled people around the globe


And John Hockenberry wonders, “Why aren’t people with disabilities a source of reassurance to the general public that although life is unpredictable and circumstances may be unfavorable, versatility and adaptation are possible; they’re built into the coding of human beings.”



Jeanne said...

What continues to astound me is the increasing brazenness with which people disregard accommodations for the handicapped. An official college vehicle often parks in the handicapped space behind my building, and twice I've left notes on it. The other day I limped by as the college driver was doing it and asked if he knew it was a handicapped space. "I'll just be a minute," he said. That "minute" is often the 20-minute period during which I pull up and find I have to walk further, using up some of the steps I can do that day. But he doesn't care, and didn't stick around to hear what I got a chance to say here.

Tabatha said...

Frustrating!! Is there someone above him who you could complain to? It sounds like someone needs to be educated.