What is Disability Studies?
1. To prepare for this discussion review the Learning Resources for Week 1. http://disabilityhistoryweek.org/timelines/ and https://www.paec.org/disabilityhistoryawareness/pdfs/Timeline.pdf and the
Disability Social History Project at http://www.disabilityhistory.org/timeline_new.html
We should start with the question of — What is Disability Studies? This is a question that I hear very often for which there are many possible answers. Let’s begging by saying that, Disability Studies generally refers to the examination of disability as a social, cultural, and political phenomenon. In contrast to clinical, medical, or therapeutic perspectives on disability, Disability Studies focuses on how disability is defined and represented in society. It rejects the perception of disability as a functional impairment that limits a person’s activities by putting the weight on the environment. From this perspective, disability is not a characteristic that defines and exists in the person or a problem of the person that must be “fixed” or “cured.” Instead, disability is a construct that finds its meaning within a social and cultural context.
It is important to note, that according to a report on the U.S. disability population released by the U.S. Census Bureau, (2010), about 56.7 million people or 19 percent of the population had a disability in 2010, based on a broad definition of disability, with more than half of this population reporting to have significant/severe disabilities. People with disabilities are the largest minority group in the United States when compare to other minority groups.
2. Respond to the following questions:
a) How can the study of disability cast light on political debates over employment, healthcare, education policies, civil unrest, and war consequences?
b) How is our consideration of these dynamics complicated and enhanced by putting them into a historical perspective? What has changed?
c) How can Disability Studies further understand its relationship to other phenomena of embodied identity, such as race, ethnicity, culture, gender, and sexual preference?
d) Briefly explain your understanding of Disability Studies (in about 50 to 60 words).
3. To Do
a) Check other reference sources posted including the following links:
Society for Disability Studies: https://disstudies.org/index.php/about-sds/what-is-disability-studies/
b) Watch Video: The Importance of Disability Studies: CUNY School of Professional Studies Academic Director of Disability Studies Programs and Distinguished Lecturer Dr. Mariette J. Bates. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDhRR4tY8kM
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