The title caught my eye a few weeks ago as I was scrolling through social media. “Demystifying Disability”?? Yes, please! Emily Ladau, a disability activist, writes about everything from ableism to disability etiquette (and yes, ‘disability’ is an ‘okay’ term!) to a brief history of disability.
Ladau’s personal philosophy is what really drew me into the book, though. “There’s a philosophy that I’ve come to embrace that informs everything I do: If the disability community wants a world that’s accessible to us, then we must ideas and experiences of disability accessible to the world.”
Did you know that it wasn’t until 1975 that disabled children were granted the right to access public education?! And it wasn’t until 1999 that the Supreme Court ruled that the ADA “prohibits the unnecessary institutionalization of disabled people”!? That was just over 20 years ago!
Besides the history of disabled people, the book gives some reality to ableism and how/when/IF disabled persons are portrayed in the media. For instance, GLAAD’s 2019-2020 report (“Where We Are on TV”) found that only about 3% of series regulars were people with disabilities, which is way under the 15% of the world population who are disabled!
Ladau doesn’t leave us hanging with the ‘what next’ or ‘what should we do’- she gives us ways to be a disability ally and how to ask questions. She gives us book lists, movie lists, and online videos to educate ourselves and become better. I especially appreciated the slogan, “Nothing about us without us.”
In my opinion, this book is a must read. Also, perhaps most importantly, let your children see you reading it. Have an open dialogue and let them ask questions!