Disability All Day

I have a friend who’s a trainer of guide dogs. She had to wear a blind fold for an extended time while learning how to train dogs for the blind. That experience taught her somehting about the daily obstacles blind people encounter—from putting on your clothes to navigating flights of stairs. “I learned how talented and tough blind folks really are,” she said. Another lesson she learned is that disabled is disabled. You start the day unable to see. You end the day that way. And you get up the next day in the same condition. Maybe that doesn’t sound like much maybe. But it’s what you have to learn. Disability is an all day affair.

Sometimes I fear disability studies scholars who equate disabled performativity with dramaturgy fail to see the non-presentational parts of disability. The down on our knees groping for the electrical socket plugging in the steam iron hitging your head on unfamiliar furniture in foreign hotels—gestures which are in fact daily aspects of materiality. I don’t get to decide how my performance will look. My “performance” is ungainly and slow. I don’t have the leisure to be “super crip” on the stage of deliberative choreographed gestures.

That’s the problem. Disability starts the day and ends the day. Presentational effects that make this seem overtly artful are unduly false.

One of the things one necessarily learns.


Author: skuusisto

Poet, Essayist, Blogger, Journalist, Memoirist, Disability Rights Advocate, Public Speaker, Professor, Syracuse University

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