Disability Final Paper and Blog


Group Members:
Nicole Nottingham
Minjay Lim
Aly Fenlon
Samantha Alisankus-Baumgartner


On January 8th 2011 a gunman shot 19 people in Arizona. One of these people was Arizona state congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. The injuries she sustained from the shooting caused her to be hospitalized for brain trauma, and separated her from her role in congress. Since the shooting, there has been considerable coverage by the media of the Giffords situation. Much focus has been placed on Giffords' recovery and possible return to congress. Although such coverage provides information on Giffords progress and status, the true value of the media's light on Giffords' situation, is that it causes society to face their own prejudices. Every person who views the Giffords situation will naturally form an opinion about Giffords new potential. It is this very "naturalness" of opinion forming that, again, lies at the heart of ableism. Ableism is our everyday assumptions as to what should "naturally" be, what is "normal", and therefore when something deviates from this "normal", we find it to be a debilitating factor to our lives. Generally, disability is looked at only in regards to physically apparent handicaps. While disability does describe physical handicap, it also describes the mirage of identities that work to define the personal "self" such as race, gender, and class. These identities can also work to disable a person in life. As seen by Peggy McIntosh's essay on White Privilege, there is an obvious disability to being a historically discriminated against race, with implications extending into the prescription of a person's social class. McIntosh reminds us that no discrimination exists in a vacuum. Race informs social class, and social class can modify gender. If any, or all, of these factors can modify a person's ability to achieve "normality" than these factors can be a disability. Therefore, ableism is the pinnacle of social discrimination. It encompasses all forms of discrimination and is the process responsible for the labeling of a person's status in society. The great paradox of ableism is that it is self-perpetuating. As long as society continues to deem certain factors "debilitating" these certain factors will actually become debilitating. If society is to find any form of relief from this plight, it will first need to find a way to annex the very foundation of ableism; the structure and ideology of "normal".


Getting "Better": http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/15/gabrielle-giffords-interview_n_1094044.html


I really liked how you guys presented disability around society's expectation of productivity and work.I was wondering if any or all of you could think of a way that we could challenge that idea, not only with our leaders, but within our own lives? I have a lot of trouble confronting ableism b.c to me it is sooooo intangible and hidden that it is hard to confront and overcome. Any ideas?

I agree with the above comment. I think it is an ingrained notion that we all apply ableism with our ability to work and be in the workforce. How can we make this more of a prominent issue in our society to minimize the discrimination we may impose?

The video you showed in class was very eye-opening. However, I did not sense myself pity, but I felt of showing praise and disappointment. Praise, to this magnificent woman who does not want to give up just because society thinks she should. Disappointment, because our society thinks a woman who is differently abled now, because of an accident, cannot hold the same position of power as she did when she was "fully" accessible to her knowledge.

I really liked the video shown in class. I also liked how this group focused on how society is focused on people becoming abled. I never really thought about the expectations we have of a disabled person becoming able again.

Leave a comment

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by alisa001 published on December 6, 2011 7:46 PM.

Final Blog was the previous entry in this blog.

Final Blog is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.