Week 12 blog response

Disability Binaries

When we think of disabilities or of someone who is disabled the usual first thought is of what that person cannot do. There are exceptions to this reaction as there are when we speak of other binaries such as sexism, gender, racism but the common normal narrative is to see what someone can’t do.  We maybe lulled into thinking that society has made great strides into the middle ground of the disable/able binary.  We see that now it is illegal to have a work place, or public place that is not accessible to those that need accommodations, we see that many people who are disabled have jobs.  We see that people are trying to raise awareness and help find cures for disabling diseases and conditions.  In the article Stolen Bodies, Reclaimed Bodies the author states that when” The dominant paradigms of disability — the medical, charity, supercrip, and moral models — all turn disability into problems faced by individual people, locate those problems in our bodies, and define those bodies as wrong.” When something is wrong, we see it as something that needs fixing or as something that is broken and no useful.  This broken image supports the disabled side of the binary, that disabled people are less than.  In order to disrupt this binary of disable/able we must first stop thinking of people’s bodies as wrong or broken simply because they can not do everything the so called normal way.  I would dare to say that most abled bodied persons need modifications in the way we do things at some point in our lives, we don’t consider our bodies broken or disabled when we do.  For the most part the modifications I am talking about are minor, such as eye glasses, canes, hearing aids and the like.  None of these things fall in the realm of disabilities or outside ableism. Now consider modifications like wheelchairs, aids to help non verbal people speak, personal aids, are these not also modifications to help a person function more optimally just like eye glasses.  So to disrupt this binary we need to define what makes one modification a disability and one not.

The second part of the prompt was to trouble the norms and see how our understanding of disability changes when we view it from Clare’s (Stolen Bodies, Reclaimed Bodies) perspective of a disabled, transgender, lesbian.  My point of view is that our understanding of disability should not change because of these other binaries. Even though there is intersectionality of the different binaries in Clare’s life, one binary does not cause the other binaries to become less or more of an issue.   Clare will have a more difficult time because she is living out side of more than one binary and will quite possibly face more discrimination than she would if she were just disabled for example.


4 thoughts on “Week 12 blog response

  1. Hey Pam!
    Your blog post here really caught my eye. When I got diagnosed with a learning disability I was frightened that people would judge me because of what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. As wanting to be a future teacher people don’t think that teachers can have these kind of disability, but we can and it doesn’t make us less of a person it makes us stronger. Your post was well thought out and really eye catching.


    1. Thank you for sharing that Cassidy. I think being a teacher with a learning disability with give you an advantage in some cases over teachers without. I say this because you have an understanding of the struggles students with the same difficulties will face, you maybe able to recognize such things a little quicker too. I also think you will be able to offer your students, all your students a different perspective on learning or tips and tricks to get through difficult topics. All the strategies you have learned to get you here will most certainly be helpful for your students. You will also be a great role model for other students who want to teach but don’t think they can because they have learning disability. What grades are you looking at teaching?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Pam, thanks for the great response to the article and opening up your thoughts.
    Something I learned in one of my classes is to use a person-first approach, meaning we should say “people with disabilities”, rather than saying “disabled person”. This allows the individual to be regarded first, rather than their disability.
    I think you’re correct in saying that wearing eyeglasses, etc. are disabilities as well. But for some reason, because those people aren’t physically or cognitively altered in some way, they aren’t labeled as disabled. There was one student a grade below me in high school, and he was almost legally blind, he had to wear these super thick glasses and he looked a bit different than everyone else because his proprioception was a bit thrown off. We definitely knew that he was different than us, and we regarded him as such. We took him less seriously, and thought he was goofy. Now (and then), I couldn’t imagine being regarded this way. While it’s easy to say “treat everyone the same way”, it’s not easy to act that out. Peer pressure and society allows us not to treat people unbiasedly.
    Looking at the fact that Clare is going to face adversity is probably true, but isn’t saying that just reinforcing it? I’d love to know your opinion on this.
    Perhaps the part we can play in the picture of disability (and other binaries), such as Clare, is to open ourselves up to acknowledging these people in a deeper way, and get to know them for who truly are.


  3. Lacy I always love your comments. You have such a great insight. I think the person first idea is a fabulous one. This made me think that why do we need to label someone disabled, much like in Lisa’s post about using colour words to describe someone they aren’t necessary so is using the word disabled necessary in general conversation. I understand the need in some cases where modifications have to be made for someone to be described according to their limitations but maybe in general conversation it doesn’t need to used either. After our class discussion on mental health I understand you statement “I can’t imagine being treated this way”much deeper than I would have before. I don’t speak about my depression except to very close friends, not even my parents know, because I don’t want to be seen as different, I struggle with the term “mental health” in big way and what it would do to my identity.

    “Looking at the fact that Clare is going to face adversity is probably true, but isn’t saying that just reinforcing it? ” It maybe reinforcement never looked at that way part of me phrasing it that way was to make sense of the intersectionality of it all. Also Couple of things about this portion as you can see it wasn’t very in depth. This area of transgender and gay and lesbians is very difficult for me to get my head around. It conflicts so deeply with my Catholic beliefs, I am struggling to get my head around this whole idea. Central to my belief and causing the biggest conflict in my brain is God doesn’t make mistakes and I see/hear those that are transgender saying God did a mistake since He made them male/female essentially the wrong gender to what they feel inside. Since I am not sure what to make of this in terms of my beliefs I tend to tread very cautiously and lightly in order not to offend anyone. My thoughts on this whole topic are wrought with the very rebuttals we are trying to avoid and correct. Right or wrong this one is going to take awhile for me to sort out until then I will simply follow two essential rules. 1) I don’t have to agree to enhance my understanding and 2) that I will do what I is the basis of my faith and treat them as I would any other person, with kindness and try to leave the judging to God. I am not always good at this but I will continue to try. With the new knowledge from this class it may make it just a bit easier.


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