Continuing to reflect on the Beyond Suffering conference, we ask “who or what actually disables those with disabilities”? How might “we” (who are temporarily non-disabled) be responsible?
We’ve been taking on a couple of prevalent ideas about disability: first, that it’s a problem that involves certain individuals’ brains and/or bodies and secondly, that “we’re all disabled” in one form or another.
Yes, everyone is different. And no one is able to be or do everything they might like to be or do. Those truths are always worth remembering. But there are certain types of difference that get “marked” in critical ways. There is a deep tendency to categorize the difference(s) that come with certain forms of impairment as “stigma” – a “branding” that marks off the “offender” or “deviant” from “the rest of us,” who are then normalized.
What is it that makes a wheelchair user or a kid with autism “disabled”? It’s not the “difference” itself, but what we – society at large – make of it. Katherine Quarmby writes, “Society’s attitudes towards people…
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