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What is Disability Culture?

lizzieryann's picture

To me, disability culture is a celebration of perhaps the most diverse community there is: the disability community. Further, disability culture is about visibility and self-value- it’s about taking pride in the condition of disability. It’s about transforming the challenges that come with living in an able-bodied world and celebrating the human responses to these hardships. Kupper argues that disability culture is “more like a process than a state.”  I really appreciate this definition as it suggests that disability culture is dynamic and not static. When reading Kupper’s piece, I had difficulty navigating through Kupper’s writing. Specifically, in her work, it’s hard to find a point that proves or explains what disability culture is. Perhaps her writing style is intentional in that it serves to mimic the dynamic nature of disability culture thereby providing readers with a more experiential process of traversing through her work rather than a static reading experience. Kupper also mentions that disability culture is not closed to non-disabled allies or allies who do not wish to identify as either disabled or not. To me, this represents, the accepting nature of disability culture. Typically, culture is thought to be a part of a person’s identity or their self-perception. However, disability culture does not require one to belong to the disability community or identity as disabled. The accepting nature of disability culture comments on the disability community as a whole; a community that practices what they preach: inclusivity. Additionally, what makes disability culture especially unique is that it is not the only culture “members” belong to. Specifically, those who contribute and identify with disability culture also are members of different nationalities, religions, professional groups, etc. Importantly, when I think of disability culture a think of a set of beliefs, customs, arts, etc. created by disabled people that often describe or comment on the disabled experience. For example, Alice Sheppard’s dances are beautiful and thought-provoking. When watching her performance and presentation entitled "Embodied Virtuosity: Dances from Disability Culture" viewers observe her celebratation of disabled beauty and disability history. Overall, to me, disability culture promotes a sense of common identity and interests that unites the disability community and its allies.