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Disability as Diversity?


Disability as Diversity? Dennis Lang Disability Studies http://depts.washington.edu/disstud My Agenda Why Disability? Some History Some Concepts Background Slides UW ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Disability as Diversity?

Disability as Diversity?
  • Dennis Lang
  • Disability Studies
  • http//depts.washington.edu/disstud

My Agenda
  • Why Disability?
  • Some History
  • Some Concepts
  • Background Slides
  • UW Disability Studies Program

  • What is Diversity?
  • What makes Disability a Diversity Issue?

  • "discrimination in favor of the able-bodied."
    Oxford Wordfinder
  • person is determined by their disability
  • Disabled People are inferior to nondisabled
  • ableism is analogous to racism and sexism in that
    it is a system by which society denigrates,
    devalues, and thus oppresses those with
    disabilities, while privileging those without
  • morality, worth and intelligence equated to
    being able-bodied or able-minded, while
    disability is conflated with immorality,
    stupidity, and worthlessness, and disabled lives
    devalued belief that one is better off dead
    than living with disability.

Able-Body Privilege Modification of Peggy
Mclntoshs While Privilege and Male Privilege
  • I can, if I wish, arrange to be in the company of
    disabled people most of the time.
  • 2. I can avoid spending time with people who are
    uncomfortable or dislike my kind or me.
  • 3. If I should need to move, I can be pretty sure
    of renting or purchasing housing in an area which
    I can afford and in which I would want to live.
  • 6. I can turn on the television or open to the
    front page of the paper and see people with
    disabilities widely and positively represented
  • 20. I can do well in a challenging situation
    without being called a credit to my people.

  • 40. I can choose public accommodation without
    fearing that disabled people cannot get in or
    will be mistreated in the places I have chosen.
  • 42. I can arrange my activities so that I will
    never have to experience feelings of rejection
    owing to my disability.
  • 44. I can easily find academic courses and
    institutions that give attention only to disabled
  • 45. I can expect figurative language and imagery
    in all of the arts to testify to experiences of
    being a disabled person.

Differences from Other Minority Groups
  • 1. Public a confusing mix of conflicting
  • Pity, Charity, Disgust, Fear
  • 2. Lack of Safe Havens
  • (Gill, Divided Understandings, Handbook of
    Disability Studies, Albretch, et al 2000)
  • OTHER Sexless, Rudeness OK
  • Anybody can find themselves belonging at anytime.

  • belief that one is better off dead than living
    with disability

Quality of Life
  • The Standard View is that disabilities have very
    strong negative impacts on the qualities of life
    of the individuals that have them. This view is
    widely held by nondisabled people, both in
    popular and in academic culture. - Amundson

The Anomaly
  • When asked about the quality of their own lives
    disabled people report a quality only slightly
    lower than that reported by nondisabled people,
    and much higher than that projected by
    nondisabled people. Both the Standard View and
    its Anomaly have been robustly demonstrated in a
    number of studies. Disabled and nondisabled
    people have very different assessments of the
    quality of disabled peoples lives. - Amundson

I feel the weight of a social obligation to be
either healthy or miserable. Nevertheless, I
have concluded that I am always sick and often
happy, and that this seems very peculiar in my
culture. Susan Wendell, The Rejected Body
You'd the Problem (focus on the Individual,
  • I) Medical Model Most dominate in our society.
  • II) Moral Model Historical Champ! Still with
  • A) Religious / Spiritual
  • Judea-Christian society
  • Bodily difference evil spirits, the devil,
    witchcraft, God's displeasure. Or reflecting the
    "suffering Christ", angelic or a blessing
  • Buddhism Bad Karma - Past Lives
  • B) Character Refrigerator mother (Autism)
    Ulcers weak uncooperative faking
  • III) Personal Tragedy Model I rather be dead
    than. Charities Telethons

Michel Foucaults analysis of biopower
  • Medical-scientific knowledge claims and solutions
    to the problem of disability (e.g. madness
  • how we conceive of the meaning of "disability
    has enormous practical, social, and legal
    effects, reframing and urging one conception of
    disability over another is deeply and
    fundamentally connected to power structures
  • Knowledge exercises power over its objects the
    bodies of people labeled disabled.
  • Power is internal, diffuse, via medical
  • Purpose is social control, surveillance,
  • Submit under guise of benevolent medical care.
  • 19th century origins of medical monopoly over
    disability. (Medical Model)

Statistical bell curve (1835) invented in the era
of efficiency, progress, eugenics
  • Statistics created the tyranny of the norm,
    really the ideal.
  • The disabled fall short.
  • Statistician Francis Galton founded the eugenics
    program of eliminating deviations from the norm
    (in one direction only).
  • Before the 1700s Normal did not exist in

Sara Baartman, exhibited in Europe as Hottentot
Venus, died 1815, dissected displayed
IQ testing
  • 1905 invented by Alfred Binet.
  • abnormal children can be educated.
  • 1910s US psychologists corrupt this goal.
  • Mental testing industry.
  • Persons intelligence is unchangeable.
  • Hereditary.
  • Measure label institutionalize.
  • Menace to society.
  • Moron imbecile idiot scale.
  • By 1920, 328 institutions, with 200,000 people
    labeled mentally impaired.

From segregation to prevention of unfit births
the eugenics movement 1900-1940
  • Social costs, burden of supporting the
    feebleminded and their offspring.
  • vs. desirable traits white, middle-class norms
  • US sterilizes 60,000 people in institutions.

Ugly Laws
  • Early 1900's 1970s it was illegal to be
    "found ugly" on the streets of many American
    cities like Chicago, Illinois (Chicago Municipal
    Code, sec. 36034) and Omaha, Nebraska (Nebraska
    Municipal Code of 1941, sec. 25) and Columbus,
    Ohio (General Offense Code, sec. 2387.04).
    Punishment for being caught in public ranged from
    incarceration to fines.
  • No person who is diseased, maimed, or in any
    way deformed so as to be an unsightly or
    disgusting object is to be allowed in or on the
    public ways or other places in the city. If such
    a person exposes himself to public view, he shall
    be subject to a fine for each offense. Chicago

  • 1920 The Permission to Destroy Life Unworthy of
    Life, Germany. Karl Binding , a lawyer, Alfred
    Hoche, a psychiatrist.
  • 1927 Buck v. Bell United States Supreme Court
    upheld the concept of eugenic sterilization for
    people considered genetically "unfit." Oliver
    Wendell Holmes, Jr., stated "Three generations
    of imbeciles are enough.
  • Upheld Virginia's sterilization statute which
    provided for similar laws in 30 states, under
    which an estimated 65,000 Americans were
    sterilized without their own consent

US Set the Example
  • Nazi Germany -between1933-1939, 375,000 people
    in Germany sterilized
  • 1939 T4 program Start of Germanys Euthanasia
    program 275,000 Disabled People murdered.

MEDICAL MODELIndividual Bodies/Minds
  • Rehab - Public Health - Special Education - Psych
    - Nursing /Social Work Human Genome Project
  • US Code (ADA, SSDI, Voc Rehab)

Sick Role - Talcott Parsons in 1951
  • The Sick Role was a concept of Parsons, a
    Sociologist argued
  • social practices should be seen in terms of
    their function in maintaining order or structure
    in society
  • The theory outlined two rights of a sick person
    and two obligations
  • Rights
  • The sick person is exempt from normal social
  • The sick person is not responsible for their
  • Obligations
  • The sick person should try to get well
  • The sick person should seek technically competent
    help and cooperate with the medical professional

Whats wrong with Society!!
  • The Social Model of Disability
  • States that inappropriate and discriminatory
  • Social Attitudes (Ableism),
  • Sociopolitical Structures,
  • Cultural Phenomena
  • are the central problem for disabled people

Origins of the Social Model 1970s
  • Social model pioneers in Britain 1972 Union of
    the Physically Impaired Against Segregation
  • Distinguished impairment from disability.
  • Equality comes by changing the environment
  • UPIAS mandate Collective sense of injustice
    about segregation poverty organize, advocate,
    change the system.
  • 1976 manifesto It is society which disables
    physically impaired people. Disability is
    something imposed on top of our impairments by
    the way we are unnecessarily isolated excluded
    from full participation in society. Disabled
    people are therefore an oppressed group.

Anti-Discrimination Laws
  • Civil Rights Act 1964
  • ADA

Americans with Disabilities Act 1990 (ADA)
  • The ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of
    disability in employment, State and local
    government, public accommodations, commercial
    facilities, transportation, and
  • To be protected by the ADA (1) has a physical or
    mental impairment that substantially limits a
    major life activity, (2) has a record of such an
    impairment, or (3) is regarded as having such an

Washington State law broader definition than ADA
in order to protect more people from
  • (Passed in May 2007)
  • There is no requirement that the impairment limit
    one or more major life activities. Instead,
    disability is now defined as a "sensory, mental
    or physical impairment" that (1) is medically
    cognizable or diagnosable or (2) exists as a
    record or history or (3) is perceived to exist
    whether or not it exists in fact.

UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with
Disabilities UNCRPWD(in effect May 3rd 2008)
The United Nations General Assembly has
unanimously adopted a treaty on the rights of
disabled people
  • The convention is the most rapidly negotiated
    human rights treaty in the history of
    international law - the first such treaty in the
    21st Century.
  • "Too often, those living with disabilities have
    been seen as objects of embarrassment, and at
    best, of condescending pity and charity,"
  • "On paper they have enjoyed the same rights as
    others. In real life, they have often been
    relegated to the margins and denied the
    opportunities that others take for granted."
  • The convention sets out in detail the rights of
    disabled people.
  • The treaty also recognizes that attitudes need to
    change if disabled people are to achieve
  • Countries that adopt the treaty will have to get
    rid of laws, customs and practices that
    discriminate against disabled people. BBC

Purpose of Convention (Article 1)
  • To promote, protect and ensure the full and
    equal enjoyment of all human rights and
    fundamental freedoms by all persons with
    disabilities, and to promote respect for their
    inherent dignity

A Paradigm Shift
  • The Convention marks a paradigm shift in
    attitudes and approaches to persons with
    disabilities. (Social Model!!)
  • Persons with disabilities are not viewed as
    "objects" of charity, medical treatment and
    social protection rather as "subjects" with
    rights, who are capable of claiming those rights
    and making decisions for their lives based on
    their free and informed consent as well as being
    active members of society.
  • The Convention gives universal recognition to the
    dignity of persons with disabilities.

What is Disability?
  • The Convention does not explicitly define
  • Preamble of Convention states
  • Disability is an evolving concept
  • Disability results from an interaction between a
    non-inclusive society and individuals

Social Model - Variations
  • Postmodern Theory
  • sees disability as constructed via discursive
    practices (Talk / writecreate disability)
  • perceives disability identity as fluid and its
    boundaries dependent on context and the dynamic
    interaction of other self-identities
  • emphasizes a dialogic relation between impairment
    and disability (not an analytical privileging of
    one over the other)

"Through framing disability, through
conceptualizing, categorizing, and counting
disability, we create it. Higgins, Paul.
(1992) Pp. 6-7 Making Disability Exploring the
Social Transformation of Human Variation.
Springfield, Il Charles C. Thomas
Social Model - Variations (cont.)
  • Dismodern Theory -- L. Davis (U.I.C.)
  • sees imperfection as the norm

History of institutions for mentally impaired
  • By 1700, France had 100 general hospitals,
    mixed poor, sick, disabled, mental disorders.
  • 1377 Londons Bethlehem asylum (Bedlam)
  • Until late 1800s, most lived in family, community
  • Able to contribute in pre-industrial economy
    work in home, fields unpaid labor still valued.

Abuses in madhouses (1700-1850)
  • Bedlam hospital provided Sunday afternoon
    entertainment. The chained patients were placed
    in cells and galleries. The asylum received large
    sums of money from the visitors until 1770 when
    it was decided that they tended to disturb the
    tranquility of the patients by making sport and
    diversion of the miserable inhabitants and that
    admission should be by ticket only.
  • 1848 Dorothea Dix (Mass.) "More than 9000
    idiots, epileptics, and insane in these United
    States, destitute of appropriate care and
    protection. Bound with galling chains, bowed
    beneath fetters and heavy iron balls, attached to
    drag-chains, lacerated with ropes, scourged with
    rods, and terrified beneath storms of profane
    execrations and cruel blows now subject to
    jibes, and scorn, and torturing tricks, now
    abandoned to the most loathsome necessities or
    subject to the vilest and most outrageous

  • 1841- 1870s Dorothea Dix 30 state public
    institutions for people with mental impairments
  • 1870s Poor funding, growing size of institutions
    - Overcrowded, dirty institutions. Segregation of
    middle class / poor. Husbands could commit wives.

  • By 1850, 55 asylums - 45,000 ''known insane
  • by 1900, 328 institutions - 200,000 patients
  • The peaked in 1955 at 560,000

In 1936, Walter Freeman performed his first
lobotomy operation. Inserting an ordinary ice
pick above each eye of a patient with only local
anesthetic, drive it through the thin bone with a
light tap of a mallet, swish the pick back and
forth like a windshield wiper and - a formerly
difficult patient is now passive. Used it for
everything - psychosis to depression to neurosis
to criminality. He developed assembly line
lobotomies, going from one patient to the next
with his gold-plated ice pick. Between 1939 and
1951, over 18,000 lobotomies were performed in
the US, and many more in other countries. It was
often used on convicts, and in Japan, it was
recommended for use on difficult children. The
old USSR banned it back in the 1940s on moral
grounds! In the 1950s protests began. The
general statistics a third of lobotomy
patients improved, a third stayed the same, and
the last third actually got worse! Walter Freeman
performed his last lobotomy in 1967 after his
patient died from the procedure. Overall he
preformed over 3,000 lobotomies with a fatality
rate of 14.
                                                                                                                                               Life Magazine   "Bedlam 1946"                                      
Philadelphia State Hospital, known as Byberry, originally built in 1912. Byberry has been investigated so many times that in 1987, an 18-member task force decided to close the hospital in the interest of the patients. The hospital officially closed its doors in 1990. http//www.abandonedasylum.com/psh1.html

"Bedlam 1946" by Albert Q. Maisel, Life Magazine
"Bedlam 1946" by Albert Q. Maisel, Life Magazine (5/6/46)
"Bedlam 1946" by Albert Q. Maisel, Life Magazine (5/6/46)
Byberry "Four hundred patients were herded into this barn-like dayroom intended for only 80. There were only a few benches most of the men had to stand all day or sit on the splintery floor. There was no supervised recreation, no occupational therapy.. Only two attendants were on this ward at least 10 were needed." (the Shame of the States, Albert Deutsch)
"Bedlam 1946" by Albert Q. Maisel, Life Magazine (5/6/46)
This is the bed-jammed corridor of Ward N-7, for female patients, at Bellevue Hospital as sketched by Eric Godal immediately after a personal tour in the summer of 1947. City Hospitals Commissioner, Edward M. Bernecker, refused permission to take photographs inside the hospital, so Godal sketched this drawing. (the Shame of the States)
  • 1950s-1970s Deinstitutionalization State
  • 1972 The appalling conditions at Willowbrook
    State School in New York City for people with
    developmental disabilities are exposed as the
    result of a television broadcast by Geraldo
    Rivera from the facility. (POP 5,700)

Courts begin to reflect changing attitudes
  • Justice Marshall in Clebourne decision (1984)
    summarized the treatment of people with
    disabilities as follows
  • a regime of state-mandated segregation and
    degradation soon emerged that in its virulence
    and bigotry rivaled, and indeed paralleled, the
    worst excesses of Jim Crow. Massive custodial
    institutions were built to warehouse the retarded
    for life the aim was to halt reproduction and
    nearly extinguish their race. Many disabled
    children were categorically excluded from public
    schools, based on the false stereotypes that all
    were uneducable and on the purported need to
    protected nondisabled children from them. State
    laws deemed the retarded unfit for citizenship.

  • SEC. 2. FINDINGS (excerpts)
  • --The Congress finds that
  • (1) some 43,000,000 Americans have one or more
    physical or mental disabilities
  • (2) historically, society has isolated and
    segregated individuals with disabilities and
    continues to be a serious and pervasive social
  • (3) discrimination in employment, housing, public
    accommodations, education, transportation,
    communication, recreation, institutionalization,
    health services, voting, and access to public
  • (4) unlike individuals who have experienced
    discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex,
    national origin, religion, or age, individuals
    with disability have often had no legal recourse
    to redress such discrimination
  • (6) it has been documented that people with
    disabilities, as a group, occupy an inferior
    status in our society, and are severely
    disadvantaged socially, vocationally,
    economically, and educationally

What is Disability Studies?
  • UK Primarily political
  • US Primarily socio-cultural
  • Linton claims The curriculum
    revealspatronizing distorted representations
    of disability. (p. 4) Claiming Disability

Disability Studies
  • Society for Disability Studies (SDS)
  • Disability Studies Quarterly
  • http//www.dsq-sds.org/
  • Disability Studies Program at the UW
  • Minor in Disability Studies CHID 332, 432, 433
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