The reading this week by Marshak et al. focused on 16 college students with disabilities and whether they choose to receive any on campus help from the Office of Disability Resources. The students reasons for avoiding help from this office varied from having identity issues, wanting to remain avoid negative reactions, not enough knowledge over the possible help offered, assuming the help offered wouldn’t be helpful at all, and negative experience with professors in the past in regards to disability accommodation. The writing has a very scientific tone with a few well made charts and uses personal excerpts as told by the 16 volunteers to highlight each reason and give it more depth.
A few of the examples stood out to me in how they were quite similar to one another. Some of the students felt guilty about using the resources provided as they felt it was unfair to the other students. In one of the examples, this idea was reexamined as one of the volunteers for this study overheard another student with disabilities speaking harshly of her for using the accommodations provided, with the underlying idea being that she should work harder and not need them. This particular example stood out to me both because of how unfair and unsympathetic it was from the second student, but also because it validates the fears students may feel in using such accommodations. While remarks of this sort shouldn’t stop someone from using all the resources available to them, I certainly can understand the urge to just blend in. While this example may not help with our current exploration project, I feel they help me understand better the sort of fears someone might have when considering whether to go to the DRC or not.
The reading this week by Miserando was perhaps my favorite of the readings we’ve done thus far. In it, she describes to her curious best friend how living with lupus involves a lot of planning and a few limitations. Using a cluster of hastily gathered spoons as a metaphor for her energy levels, she explains how she has only a limited amount to get through the day, and how each action she undertakes uses a ‘spoon’. This explanation is one her friend can understand, and Miserando decides as such that this analogy is one she’ll use in the future.
Accessibility is something that I have never really had much cause to think about. In this sense, I find the writings we read to be illuminating. For example, the idea that accessibility is something many struggle with in even modern buildings and certainly in older ones is an idea I very rarely have pondered, or at least that I haven’t considered in depth. The struggle one can experience can be a struggle not only in the moment but also prior to the moment. Having to plan each day to make sure one has enough ‘spoons’ to complete the day is something those with disabilities may have to consider. What to wear and how to wear it, what to eat and how to prepare it, and what to do and how to do it are just a few of the concerns one with disabilities might face. And inaccessible buildings make it all that much more difficult.
Throughout the years, disability has been presented in various ways in various types of media. Dolmage’s section on disability and the different myths it often takes shape in was an interesting read, if not quite as in depth as I’d have preferred. In it he goes over myths associated with disability and how it is often used in a way that makes the characters associated with it feel flat and one dimensional.
I feel like many of his myths are not as relevant as they were in the past. While I do think a few of these tropes exist still in some form, I feel like we as a culture are moving away from seeing people with disabilities as being completely defined by them. Shows like Glee that have characters with disabilities present them as people with hopes, love interests, and lives, and realistically have their disabilities just being a mostly unimportant aspect of who they are, much like hair color or wearing glasses. While a lot of the myths do bother me, the myth of “Overcoming or Compensation” is perhaps the most irritating. The idea that people with disabilities can just overcome their disability, but only if they work hard enough, is frustrating. This myth says that they are not okay the way they are. They must be better and must work much harder, to have as much worth as the average person. While there is a grain of truth in this, that disabled people often do have to work harder to reach the same results, I very much dislike the implication that they must overcome their disabilities. Many feel fine the way they are, and others perhaps can’t overcome their disabilities, no matter how hard they try.