All day I think about it, then at night I say it. Where did I come from, and what am I supposed to be doing? I have no idea. My soul is from elsewhere, I'm sure of that. And I intend to end up there...Who looks out with my eyes? What is the soul? I cannot stop asking. If I could taste one sip of an answer, I could break out of this prison...I didn't come here of my own accord, and I can't leave that way. Whoever brought me here will have to take me home.

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07 November 2009

Disability Writes

What is a normal human, and who is allowed to define the boundaries of normal? Does *normal* include the fact that no matter how far technology reaches, disability will always be an intrinsic part of human diversity and society? Though some people are born disabled, most people, as they age, will experience some degree of disability, whether mild, moderate, severe, or profound.

Disabled individuals have a right to be disabled. In place of overeager benevolence and pity, disabled people need innovation, reciprocity, respect, and support to be who are they are in life. There is nothing horrific or shameful about being different, disabled, or unique. Horrific and shameful are words that belong to the negative attitudes, prejudice, and stigma many disabled people face. 

Here are some books related to both disability rights and disability studies recommended by a few acquaintances, friends, and me.
  • Bending Over Backwards: Essays on Disability and the Body by Lennard Davis and Michael Berube. This book takes a critical look at what we define as normalcy.
  • Claiming Disability: Knowledge and Identity by Simi Linton. This book offers insight into the social model of disability verses the medical model. 
  • Deaf Subjects: Between Identities and Places by Brenda Jo Brueggemann. This book explores the power of American Sign Language, as well as the diversity within the Deaf community, inclusive of deaf identity.
  • Disability Theory by Tobin Anthony Siebers. This book has been touted as a field-defining book. Melanie Yergeau especially liked Siebers' discussion about how architecture and our desire for beautiful buildings reflects our desire for beautiful bodies. 
  • Embodied Rhetorics: Disability in Language and Culture by Professor James C Wilson PhD et al. C.S. Wyatt shares that this book is a good overview and that he especially likes "Am I MS?" and "(Working with) The Rhetoric of Affliction."
  • No Pity: People with Disabilities Forging a New Civil Rights Movement by Joseph P. Shapiro. This book explores societal views on disability.
  • Open Your Eyes: Deaf Studies Talking by H-Dirksen L. Bauman (Editor). This book has many Deaf contributors and offers a myriad of valuable insights on the true definition of normalcy.
  • Recovering Bodies: Illness, Disability, and Life Writing by G. Thomas Couser. Melanie Yergeau relates that Couser describes the ways in which the literary marketplace restricts disability writings into stock and overdetermined narratives, and also in the ways in which people with disabilities (PWD) have begun to *speak* back. 

A response from C.S. Wyatt to common disability myths about autism:

It's good to know we [individuals on the autistic spectrum] go against the stereotypes of all being physicists, math savants, or computer geeks. Oh yeah, I came from programming. Still, I think any cultural studies/anthropological views of disabilities is useful and proves we not only aren't stereotypes, but that we have interests beyond whatever it is people are using to define us.

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