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My View of Disability Culture

Marly729's picture

Disability culture has a lot to offer, with both information about disability and the gap that is present between the neurodivergent and the neurotypical. Culture on its own is "the quality in a person or society that arises from a concern for what is regarded as excellent in arts, letters, manners, scholarly pursuits, etc." ( So how does that change when you add disability to the picture? When I think of disability culture I do not think of it as one set thing, the same way I do not think culture on its own is one thing. Disability cultures varies from person to person, from their neurodiversity, their ethnic background, their relationship with their disability, and the experiences that they have been through due to them being neurodivergent. I believe to say that all disability culture is the same is to say that we would not learn something different as we look and interact with variuous neurodivergent individuals. In addition to that, I believe that disability culture is not static; it changes over time, the same way that culture has changed with history. Disability culture has changed with the advancements in accessiblilty within society. I can not come up with a straight forward definition right now but if I were to assign characteristics and descriptors of what disability culture is I would call it "evolving" and "assorted."


gcat's picture

Sorry this is a bit late, I usually chunk out 2:30-7:30 for all my disability theory stuff, so I did not see the time limit in time!  These are great points. And maybe you can't come up with a straight forward definition because there isn't one! And maybe there shouldn't be! I think our tendency to want to label things comes from our ongoing perpetuation of the medical model (like diagnoses). Really, though, as you said beautifully, it assumes that a person "on its own is one thing," or that they do not have the ability to "change" into something else. This might be a bit personal, but I recently had the obsession with trying to figure out whether my older brother is bipolar or borderline. But this falsely assumes that by knowing what he "is," I will know everything about him, which trust me, with my brother you never do. 

I would like to add this quote to your discussion as well which really connected to me and what I recently talked about in my Advocating for disability class: "Equally endless and, at times, exhausting, is the list of partialities, allegiances, pathways that intersect and construct us in other ways: we are differently gendered, sexed, classed, racialized, cultured, nationalized" (7). I think you basically encapsulated the idea the quote is mentioning, especially through assorted, but I also like the idea of "intersect" In that not only does everyone have different disability cultures, but these disability cultures affect them in different ways (many times making that disability harder). I.e., I've noticed that people have justified treating me in sexist ways because of my disability, in that it seems more natural to other people that I "deserve" mistreatment. Alternatively, though, I am also white, financially privileged, have a loving family, and am straight. I could be with someone with achondroplasia, and yes we have the same disability, but because of all the factors Kuppers mentions, we have different experiences and therefore different experiences with our disabilities as well.