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What is Disability Culture and How Does it Change People

cool44man's picture

The concept of disability culture was first difficult for me to understand. The definition of disability is so vast, and therefore people have different experiences. I had learned that culture comes from a shared set of stories of and beliefs. However, Kuppers’ work convinced me that there are pockets of disability culture throughout the nation. Ranging from dance groups, sports teams, and DASH, groups of disabled folks bond together to create something. I was also initially uncomfortable with the fact that cultures create something. However, I realized that when people come together and bond, this creates a safe space that encourages creativity. The results of disability culture are varied and adaptive since disability in itself is ever-changing. That is why I thoroughly agree with Kuppers thought that disability culture is a process. Since disabled people are oppressed across the board, its easy for non-disabled people to assume that disabled culture doesn’t or shouldn’t exist. People (including myself) may be hesitant to embrace disabled culture since it feels that we must relate to the experiences of every other disabled person regardless of their complex web of other identities. However, since every disabled person deals with constant ableism, people tend to be accepting of those who enter the community. That is why I love the concept of “culturing”. We are not born in a disability culture, so people must educate themselves about it. This process changes a person and it makes them most likely to mold a person to share values common in disability culture. For example, accepting my disabled identity made me think about making my ideas accessible to others. This has caused me to become more creative. Even though there are many disability subcultures, universal struggle can unify these pockets into a mass that is able to create significant change. Overall, the complexity and power of disability culture is worth chrinicaling from an anthropological perspective.