Tuesday, July 24, 2012

In which Anonymus Maximus talks about the Social Model of Disability

Hello children! Today we're talking about two words, and their differing meanings, and how this intersects with ableism [and how the fact that 'ableism' still isn't considered a correct word works to continue said ableism] and a small discussion about how humans are social animals.

So. For context. I am quirky, clinically so. For a large chunk of my life I thought I was just quirky, and lazy, and since everyone else around me managed their lifes, I obviously could handle mine if I just tried harder. Then I became clinically quirky, and got a lable that says disabled, and get told repeatedly that I have no agency and because I am disabled I can't know what I think or lead a successful life.

This is bullshit.

So, lets talk about disabled.
Disability is not the same thing as impairedment. One thing doesn't actually mean the other.
And this is interesting.

You see, we have this tendancy to think that if you are disabled, you are impaired in some way. We also think that only disabled people are impaired. And we never think of the difference. [Word of warning, what follows is the idea of the social model of disability, and is somewhat Social Justice 101]
See, we are all impaired. Impairment means something we cannot do.
A rather common impairment nowadays is myopia. It is quite easily corrected with glasses. Glasses are assistive technology.
But, none of us are disabled because of it. And none of us thinks of glasses as assistive technology.
Disability would arise if there were no glasses.
Interestingly enough, this means that you wouldn't necessarily -feel- disabled or -suffer- from your impairment. Because you'd still see and do and feel and hear everything that you can see and do and feel and hear today, as you are, here and now and in real life [by which I mean, not some abstract you from a thought experiment], only, every other human being you ever encountered can see more than you do, and assume that you can too, and this would be where your suffering (from your disability caused by an entirely non-painful impairment) comes from. [Also, possibly, headaches, because yeah.]

So if you use a wheelchair for ambulatory purposes, you are impaired because you can't walk, but you are disabled because society insists on kerbs and staircases.

I think, maybe, one could be disabled without necessarily being impaired as well. Although I don't know how.

The main problem, I suppose, is that the social model talks about impairment and disability and ableism, and it synonymizes disability with ableism [kinda], but keeps using impairment and disability as interchangable words. Confusing? Yes. Yes it is.

Thusly we conclude the lecture about the Social Model of Disability, as a part of the series known as The Meanings of Words, and as a primer for Social Justice 101.

In conclusion: You can be impaired without being disabled. We all are.
You can be both impaired and disabled, and the disability comes from humans not making reasonable accomodations because we aren't used to needing to do so.
And you can be disabled without being impaired.
What does this tell us? [I say: "Kafka was right, Hell is indeed other people."] Other people is usually the problem. Aint that interesting, so say!