Tuesday, October 21, 2008

What defines disability? The Disability Experience

This question came up on a thread on my very favorite disability site, Ouch, where some people were pondering the vague comment by some of the moderators that "80% of Ouch users are able-bodied". Here was my response:

Hmmmmmmm....very interesting. See, the thing with this is I think we have to go past the stereotypical, medical definition of disability and start thinking of disability as a MINORITY group, much like any other racial or cultural group out there. Most of us have agreed in past threads that disability does have a culture, and even those who don't quite agree with that statement know that disability is a whole different world than the so called "able-bodied" or "normal" world. This board is not made up of all "disabled people" per se, however, it is made up of people who, "disabled" or not, are a part of the disability community in some way, shape, or form, and understand the differences b/w "our" world and "theirs", as I like to think of it. We have our own humor, ideas, etc. as this site clearly illustrates. The people who post on this board "get it", as I always say. Disability is not a medical condition, or even a state of mind so much as an....experience. We experience disability. Some of us, like myself, live it, and have lived it all our lives. Some of us are just beginning to tiptoe into this wonderful experience now, and are still coming to terms with the drastic differences. Some of us experience it through others, as some people have already mentioned. But no matter what, disability is a roller-coaster experience that will never leave you, no matter how "able-bodied" you may become. We are disabled. All of us, on this board, we're all disabled. We all know disability. We all experience it. We cannot, I repeat, CANNOT start defining who is really "able-bodied" and who is "disabled" on this board, because we know where it'll lead. First it'll start with animosity towards the supposed "ABs" and then, who knows? I mean, are we going to start moving towards a society dominated completely by those who we consider "disabled", and anyone who isn't disabled enough is eliminated? I know it sounds like something out of a science-fiction novel (one that I would probably write!), but that's what we're heading towards with all this pigeon-holing of people. Like I said, anyone who knows the disability experience is "disabled" in my eyes.

What say you? Let me know YOUR opinions!