Why there exist no ‘People with Disability’ but the Disabled

Introduction

After reading the articles Harry Potter and the Allure of Separatism by Cal Montgomery and Constructing Normalcy by Lennard Davis, his question of Disability rights stem up. While Montgomery dwells into the idea of distinguishing the ‘people with Disability’ as being part of their own community and the community of normal persons, Davis on the other hand construes the origin of the term disability as a norm. The implication of these two arguments with regards to the subject matter under discussion is that, without clearly identifying who physically challenged persons are, there is a great likelihood of misunderstanding the community and therefore fail to provide them with their required needs. The two authors confirm a debate that has been in existence for a couple of years as to whether the use of the term “people with Disability” is demeaning to the people who are incapable of handling certain tasks because of their limited physical ability. The paper therefore argues that there exists no persons with disability but rather all people have a particular physical weakness distinct from others that make them disabled or challenged in carrying out certain acts.

The Distinction of a normal and a ‘person with Disability’

For an individual to bear the title “a human being” they must have life. It is the life that make all people equal and thus subject to equal treatment. It is on this basis that the disability Activists have pushed for the recognition of the rights of the disabled persons. One thing that proves difficult however is distinguishing the so called normal person and the ‘person with disability.’ Davis for example introduces the discussion of the ideal person. In his paper, he argues that most ideal things are equated to the average or to the mean. For example, for us to tell who the most beautiful woman in the world is, we subject various models to contest to get that one person who bears the desired characteristics. Once the person is identified, all the other people will therefore use the person as a reference point to beauty. Likewise, the healthiest person is equated to that person who takes a balanced diet. Lastly, the most brilliant and intelligence person in a certain population, is depicted through classroom examinations, in that the top student is the most intelligent. In all these examples however, there is a limitation as some people make great innovations but having failed classroom exams, others meet all the desired characteristics of beauty but never turn up for beauty contests, yet others take a balanced diet but end up dying early. With regard to a normal and disabled person, we find that some people in the world are tall yet others are short, some see far yet others see near or don’t see at all, some are fat yet others are slim. In all these examples, the most ideal or the normal person always turns out to be that average person in the category. While the extremes are always associated with normalcy, falling short of the average is always equated to disability which is misguided. For example, the very short people, who are termed as pigmies are associated with the disabled, those with a low vision are associated with ‘people with disability’ and those with slow mental growth are further regarded as bearing a disability. If the above listed physical characterizes are used in the identification of the normal and the people with disability, then I take the position that a person with disability does not exist and that various people are only disabled in performance of different tasks.

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The Notion of the Disabled as those having various barriers in Life

In life, virtually all individuals are disabled in one way or the other. The cause of their inability to carry out certain tasks is what is referred to as a barrier. For example, the people who use wheel chairs find it difficult moving on public roads because there are no spaces created especially for them. These people further find difficulties going up very tall buildings because it is a challenge for them to move up the stairs. Those people with low visual capabilities may also miss out on very dangerous jobs like machine operation. These people don’t have a disability but rather it’s a barrier which some people in the same condition manage to overcome because of their courage while others don’t. One of the greatest living example is Pastor Nick, who despite lacking hands and legs still manages to swim, yet some people with both hands and cannot swim. It is on this basis that I support the idea that, instead of the government focusing on creating amenities like for example a special place on the public roads for those who use wheelchairs, a state of discrimination on others dues to the preferential treatment is likely to occur. Montgomery in his article for example say that the best way to assist the people with cognitive impairments is not denying them the accessibility of the public roads but rather, they must be provided with the special places where they are subjected to twenty four hours control and supervision, for those who use wheelchairs. Montgomery further adds that for the who are unable to climb tall buildings due to their physical features, their cognitive impairments should not be the reason for the denial of essential services by others but rather, the government and other people must come up with a way of putting them under medical supervision to enable them do away with the impairment. To this end therefore, it is the denial of opportunities for other people simply because of others impairments that is wrong but that instead of feature being erected, that because discrimination amongst the population, treatement5 should be offered to assist such impaired people do away with the barriers affecting them. If a disabled person is one who has a barrier in life therefore, then all people in the world are disabled to some extend because not every person was created with the perfect characteristics.

Factors identifiable with one being a member of the ‘Disability Community’

One fallacy that has been created in the world is it’s replicated in every days situation is the grouping of people in two categories. A category of the disabled community on whom many activists champion for their rights and on the other hand the community of those without disability. Cal Montgomery in his article brings up two different terminologies that enable as to differentiate the two groups. He says there exists two kinds of groups. The accumulative community and the associative community. An accumulative community is one that generalizes people according to location or tribe while an associative community is one of people who bear almost similar characteristics, or would want to be associated with people with certain characteristics. The people who stay in Britain for example are accumulatively called the British community. The people with various physical impairments however, may want to identify with other people of similar characteristics according to Montgomery. Those who wish to see the barriers removed, may also want to associate with those possessing the barriers. To this extend, the whole of this group is termed as an associative community. Having established the above therefore, the ‘disability community’ may be regarded as a virtual community composed with the people who associate themselves with a certain barrier and not actually possessing the barrier. A person who lacks hands and legs but can still play, swim and move around the public roads without any difficulty, may not want a preferential treatment be made to him as that will amount to discrimination. Such a person may therefore not want to be associated with a group of people who lack legs and hands and still are unable to move around the public roads. Being disabled therefore is a matter of an individual having a certain condition, accepting that he or she has the condition and further accepting that such condition is a barrier to carrying out certain tasks. To this far, I therefore argue that placing all the people with impairments in one category and terming them people with disability is misguided and unsubstantiated. ‘Disability’ should therefore not be perceived from the physical characteristics but the willingness of an individual to associate himself with the characteristics.

The term ‘People with Disability’ as a culmination of the 18th century

The term ‘persons with Disability’ does not derive from the early times of human beings and neither is it a creature of the mediaeval times but a term crafted in the 19th century specifically to confer certain privileges to certain groups or people or acts a barrier to certain kind of people. The term first appeared during industrialization periods between the years 1840 and 1860. It may well be said that the aspect of disability is a historical conception crafted by the rich or what Karl Marx referred to as the Bourgeoisie for their own selfish gains. According to Lennard Davis for example, it was an ideological manner of immersing power upon themselves. The idea was first hatched through the introduction of the term norm or normalcy yet creating ambiguity of what really amounts to normalcy. What the Bourgeoisie wanted was a way of playing around with physical differences to create ideological distinctions out of them. Acts or forms in which the disabilities are therefore caused form the ideologies surrounding the disability. Lennard Davis to this extend proposed that in order to end the preferential treatment and discrimination we must rethink the definition of normalcy from the pre industrialization times. It is on this ground that I strongly argue that a person with disability does not exist in the world but rather people have various impairments that we must always guard and ensure that do discrimination is effected based on those impairments.

Counter Argument

The proponents of the rights of people with disabilities, and those who believe in their existence, argue that, for there to be proper protection of this vulnerable group of people in the society, a proper definition that encompasses all the people with various incapability’s. Further, the people bearing the characteristics must belong to a group or a certain community easily identifiable for the purposes of protection. These people believe that the people with disability must uplifted to as far as possible to live a life equal to the normal persons. It therefore means that for those incapable of walking and are constrained to using the wheelchair, a public space must be created for them on the public roads to enable them have a similar feeling on the roads. The laws on disability rights created today are based on a very myopic view of the disabled people, to the extent that they are more inspired by the physical characteristics rather than an individual’s choice of identifying himself or herself with the conditions.

On the contrary, I strongly oppose the existence of people with disability and reiterate that to a large extend, every individual has some kind of barrier or impairment either in terms of being tall or short, fat or thin, black or white, walking or unable to walk etc. If we started offering preferential treatments to all these people, we will end up creating an environment of discrimination. The best solution is to focus on the eradication of the barrier to the so called normalcy, rather than using the deviation from normalcy to discriminate others. If there is a way in which a person can be assisted medically for example, to regain eyesight, then it is better than building physical facilities that will end up constraining the budget and demean others. We should only start perceiving the people with various cognitive impairments as oppressed by history by the Bourgeoisie class and therefore the aim of safeguarding their rights is to end this oppression.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the two articles by Montgomery and Davis, seeks to evoke thoughts about the wrong conceptions held for a very long time about the disabled persons. Through the articles, it becomes clear that the term ‘persons’ with disability’ was a term initiated by the high class during the industrialization period to spark ideological differences in their favor. It was a tool of preservation of their powers. The reality is, every person has a kind of impairment different from another and therefore, acts that will cause different treatment must be avoided. The introduction of the idea of normalcy further remains problematic as it presents difficulties in learning the disabled person and the most ideal person. The discussion is therefore important because it is only through a proper construction of who exactly the disabled persons are, that it becomes easily to legislate about their concerns and protect their rights. While the proponents of the Disability rights champion for passage of laws on the mere distinction in physical characteristics, I look at the historical origins and try to eradicate the ideology which is the cause of today’s oppression. From the above discussions, it is therefore plausible to conclude that every person is impaired in one way or the other and all people deserve better treatment. Disability does not exist but rather people choose to identify themselves with people bearing certain physical limitations.

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