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Final Reflection

Alison Love's picture

In my application for this class last year, I wrote that mostly what I knew about disability was that I did not know much. Coming into this class with no academic grounding in concepts of disability and only a bit of experiential learning in the field, I did not know the fundamental definitions in disabilities studies. Beginning with Eli Claire, helped me enter into disability studies by highlighting on the interdisciplinary and interconnected aspects of field. The themes of equality and self advocacy were partially what drew me to take this class, what Claire highlights in his work, and what stood out to me most about the course material. The theme that representation matters was not new to me but learning about it in the context of disability drastically deepened my understanding of its importance and relevance for disability, race, gender, sexuality, nationality, language, and so many more integral and interconnected aspects of identity. Neurodiversity and the idea that the world needs to make accommodations to disabilities instead of the reverse stood out to me and connected concepts together in this class. Harriet McBryde Johnson’s writing especially articulated and demonstrated these ideas to me in a way that I do not think I will ever forget and I hope the read much more of her work in the future.

Every week I learned many things that were completely new to me. I learned about terms directly from the people to whom they applied over and over again. I learned about some of the technical aspects of disability; for example, I learned about many of the traits of autism and why Autistic people act in some of the common Autistic traits like stimming. I learned about walking a fine line of being nondisabled and studying disability during some of the earliest topics, such as disability pride and humor, and avoiding the super crip narrative. 

I learned about some of my own relationships to disability as an individual in my specific background as well as in my place at an institution of higher education. In the open ended nature of our midterm and final assignments, I was able to explore the ideas of the class that stood out to me the most and made me question my previous notions of disability more than ever. In my midterm on disability and age, I was able to explore this commonly overlooked intersection. Since working on this midterm project, I have participated in and overheard many discussions and comments about aging that continue to make me consider the interesting overlap between these parts of human experience. I hope to continue editing this project and pursue publishing it. 

I learned immense amounts from my classmates every class and particularly through the in-progress project presentation and reading/experiencing other projects. I am very grateful for my classmates as well as for Kristin for making the class’s collaborative learning possible. The way that Kristin structured the class was extremely influential on the way I learned in the course and is definitely one of the lessons that I will take away from this class into my future. Taking different learning styles and communication methods into account seemed daunting to me before taking this course. Although a main thing that I have continued to learn in this class is that there is so much more for me to learn about disability studies and activism work, what I have learned will help me consider access in all of the places I work and live in the future.

The work with CCW seemed a bit separated from the class but not in a way that detracted from its importance or learning potential. I learned about historic and contemporary art as well as discovered and questioned the concept of “outsider art.” I really appreciated getting to know Beth, Sam, and other artists at CCW. The way that the exhibition came together was magnificent and I am impressed with all of the hard work that made it happen.