I’ve seen the below image circulating on Facebook recently. A friend of mine pointed out an interesting conversation about it, and my comment ended up being a bit of a novel. Instead of clogging up the OP’s feed, I figured I’d turn it into a blog entry.
Tweet originally by Justin Martin. I highly suggest checking out the rest of his feed.
Disability is regularly erased from media, political action and policy. I have a lifetime personal experience from both the learning disabled and invisible chronic illness points of views. As such, I’ve done quite a bit of research and writing about this issue.
Did you know that an estimated half of all people shot by police have some sort of disability? Probably not. It’s rarely mentioned.
Did you know Intellectual Disability has been renamed multiple times because its use as an insult has been prevalent enough to create extreme harm to those who have that diagnosis? Think about that every time you call someone a “retard” or anything ending with “-tard”. I’ve already written an entry on how language influences disability, and with how the current year is going, I’ll probably do a few follow ups.
Take a look at the current administration’s White House web page. The only places disability is mentioned is in the First Lady’s bio, historical events and informational pages on accessing the White House.
By the way, Mrs. Pence is passionate about “treating” disability with Art Therapy, which is great for some, but should only be used as part of a larger program. It doesn’t work for everyone or all aspects of disability. Parts may be used to help dyslexic kids learn how to read, but alone it’s ineffective. Profoundly paralyzed individuals may not be able to manipulate drawing utensils or have access to computerized art programs. I know for a fact that it’ll do exactly nothing for the disabling migraines I occasionally suffer from or the immediate challenges my ADHD-I present while attempting certain tasks. It sure wouldn’t help a wheelchair user access upper floors when there’s no ramp or elevator available. There is no one size fits all accommodation or therapy for disability.
I could probably fill a book about what would happen if ADA and IDEA were gutted. I’ve only seen rumors of those things happening, but haven’t had the chance to verify them.
Oh, and we can’t forget history.
The disabled population was one of the first groups to be murdered in the Holocaust, which isn’t taught in schools. Eugenics was, and is, aimed at eradicating all disability from the gene pool. Always remember the horrific conditions inflicted upon those forced into mental institutions before patients’ rights laws were put into effect.
Perceived disability was and is still being used against marginalized groups everywhere. For instance, women are seen as less physically able to function/mentally unstable due to hormones, minorities are seen as less intelligent than white people. Instead of embracing the intersection with these labels, the larger civil rights movements have historically distanced themselves from the very concept of disability. As a result, many disabled members don’t feel welcome in fights that profoundly influence them, too.
It’s not surprising at all that a large part of the disability community feels ignored, because, for the most part, we have. Instead of getting upset about being accused of “not caring”, take extra time to learn, act, and educate.
Krisberg, Kim. “Nation In Brief.” Nation’s Health 46.5 (2016): 15. Academic Search Premier. Web. 15 Nov. 2016.
Baynton, Douglas C. “Disability and the Justification of Inequality in American History.” Race, Class, and Gender in the United States. 10th ed. Ed. Paula S. Rothenberg. New York: Worth, 2016. 81-90.
https://search.whitehouse.gov/search?query=disabilities&op=Search&affiliate=wh (Accessed 1/29/2017)