Disability 101

What is Disability?

Disability is a concept that covers a very wide range of life experiences. Types of disabilities include physical, intellectual or developmental, neurodiversity, mental health / psych / psychological / psychiatric, chronic illness, blindness or low vision, Deafness or hard of hearing, neurological, learning, in addition to others. Disabilities can be visible or non-apparent, and can be acquired at any point in life, from something you are born with to something you acquire during your life, or when you reach old age. Disability is an extremely common life experience, with the CDC estimating 1 in 4 people have a disability in the United States (Source). Disability exists in every group of people in society across race, ethnicity, age, income, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, immigration status, political ideology and every other type of life experience. Because of the expansive spectrum of disability and other life experiences people have, personal experience and conception of disability varies widely. The different things that disabled people need to fully participate in, commonly referred to as access needs or accommodations, also vary widely within the community. 

Everyone is on a journey with how they think of disability, disabled and nondisabled alike. Some people are not aware of their impairment. Some are aware that they have a disability, but they do not identify with the disability community. Some identify themselves as part of the disability community. Some very proudly and openly identify as disabled and part of the disability community. Some openly identify as disabled in some groups and not in others. Nondisabled people have their own conceptions and attitudes towards disability, which can be shown when they interact with a person with a disability, such as a child, sibling, parent, friend, coworker, or other individual. 

The disability community claims, together, that our minds and bodies are valuable and that we deserve to be treated as such. 

I recommend “Reassigning Meaning” by Simi Linton: https://www.disabilitymuseum.org/dhm/edu/essay.html?id=21Disability