The research article, Exploring Barriers to College Students Use of Disability Services and Accommodations, details a qualitative study completed by Marshak et al. in which researchers aimed to better understand why disabled students do not utilize campus available disability accommodations. Researchers interviewed sixteen disabled students from a medium sized public university. Interviews were semi-structured with questions ranging from a variety of related topics but seeking to gain information about the students’ utilization of their campus’ disability resource center and other accommodations. Five categories of barriers emerged from the interviews, including: identity issues, insufficient knowledge (knowing that the resources are available in the first place, or how/where to receive them), desire to avoid negative social reaction, perceived quality/usefulness of services, and negative experiences with professors.
What stood out most in this research paper as most surprising, is that one of the major thematic categories was negative experiences with professors.Professors are generally regarded as reasonable and diverse individuals. After reading the example provided in the article, I immediately thought of one of the myths proposed by Dolmage discussed earlier in our course. Physical disability is often assumed to be a sign of an internal flaw, while on the other hand if there is no obvious outward appearance of disability some fail to recognize their legitimacy. In truth, many students are affected by disabilities that aren’t obvious, however, that does not make them any less challenging. Being a large advocate for ending the stigma on mental health, it is important that we are taking all disabilities seriously, even if we do not fully understand them regardless of our position in life.
In this short article, Spoon Theory, Miserando details a personal experience in which she attempts to accurately describe her life with Lupus to her best friend. In an attempt to help her friend understand, Miserando gathers up 12 spoons from the surrounding tables of their diner setting. The author then proceeds to hand the spoons to her friend and thereafter takes her through a hypothetical day. The spoons metaphorically represent the sum of energy that Miserando starts the day with, with every activity and task costing her her precious spoons. Seeing just how quickly and easily her spoons are used up, along with the constant decisions she must make in order to preserve her spoons, help bring her friend one step closer to comprehending what it is like to live with Lupus.
When considering disability it is easy to overlook the conditions that aren’t as physically obvious as others. This oversight can easily transfer over when evaluating the overall accessibility of a building or structure. Open spaces, ramps, elevators, and automatic doors are all great characteristics for a building to have in terms of the physically disabled, however, what accessibility characteristics are available for chronically ill individuals? Initial examination may bring to mind little in terms of what can be considered a barrier for these individuals. However, after further introspection some of these challenges become more apparent. For example, in many of the building around Purdue’s campus there is relatively little seating or hand railing throughout the halls. For someone with a chronic illness this means fewer places to rest and conserve their “spoons.” Another example would be taking into consideration the amount and location of the restrooms. Many individuals with chronic illnesses find themselves in positions of needing a bathroom readily and easily available. If a building has hard to locate restrooms, or restrooms that are exceedingly far apart, this could pose an issue. Buildings with large, heavy doors could pose a challenge to those who are too weak to open them easily, forcing them to exert more energy that they do not have. These few examples merely scratch the surface at the numerous potential challenges that someone with a disability or chronic illness may have to face simply as a result of a buildings design. This further demonstrates the need for universal accessibility, especially at somewhere as wonderfully diverse as Purdue University.
Dolmage’s article highlights several popular myths that surround disability in our society. By extensive investigation into a myriad of various pieces of literature, television shows and movies, Dolmage discusses how disability is most popularly displayed and how these portrayals aren’t always necessarily true. More importantly, Dolmage points out how these portrayals are responsible for the reinforcement of the stigma surrounding disability and the ignorance of what it really means to be disabled.
Reading this excerpt from Dolmage’s book really brought to light just how similar nearly every piece of work concerning disability is to one another. I thoroughly enjoyed the immense number of examples the author provides in making his argument. Not only that, but the examples were easy to follow and well known, making the ready both easy to follow and enjoyable. Of the several myths given and explained in the reading, “Kill-or-cure” caught my attention the most. While reading Dolmage’s definition (it is nearly always portrayed as the disabled character being cured or simply dying by the conclusion) I realized that this myth applies to nearly every work I could think of. There never seems to be a portrayal of a disabled person simply living their life, but rather it is centered on their path to a cure or the path to their deathbed.
I really appreciated the fact that author linked these literary myths to real life application and the influence they have on our society. What is more frightening is that the majority of people never realize the influence that they have. Many people have never had the opportunity to experience a disability personally or even know someone who is disabled. This means that the only encounter they may have with disability is in the books that they read, the movies that they watch, and the television shows that they binge on so it comes as no surprise when many people are ignorant of what disability really is. It is no surprise when people do not know how to discuss the subject or interact with disabled persons.
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