Disability Book Comparison the Author Essay

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The book goes on to say that normalization "would lead to closing institutions and mainstreaming in every aspect of life."


The first question relative to the Linton book asks how cultural and environmental contributions have influenced how one thinks about responses to people with disabilities. Linton's treatise is a great example of how the author of this paper has used a cultural offering (a book, in this case) as she sums it up beautifully when she says that "it wasn't until then that I gained the vantage point of the atypical, the out-of-step, the underfooted." Being exposed to something like this is a pivotal way to consider it because only being exposed indirectly via movies and such is never going to match a personal experience. The author of this paper has a person very close that had polio and it was clear that he was more self-sufficient than most able-bodied people despite the challenges and physical limitations he face. In short, environmental exposure and conditions will always be much more affecting than just reading it in most books or watching it in most movies.

The next question looks at why Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act was not enforced. The Linton book notes that even with the law in place, it was "largely ignored until the '90's, when the more rigorous provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act" went into effect, requiring not only access, but reasonable accommodation to students and employers." There was apparently no teeth in the Rehab Act, but the subsequent ADA was a game-changer.

The third Linton question asks how the racial civil rights compares with the disabled civil rights movement. The Linton book offers a great line on page 167 when it says "…parents may have been adept at teaching them about discrimination they were bound to face as African-American and Hispanics, but what about the particulars of disability oppression, including that which might come from their own communities?." In short, even if it's not a skin color issue, disabled people's plight is not nearly as recognized or firmly address as it has been with the racial civil rights movement and it's clear that both groups deserve unfettered rights to be fully contributing and benefitting members of society.

As for the last question, it asks about the differences between empathy, sympathy and condescension. One part of the Linton text, as noted on page 112, notes that sympathy actually can detract from social and cultural solutions to the plight of disabled people or, as the book puts it, "(b)y focusing our attention on the individual and eliciting sympathy or awe, these articles diverted us from thinking about how to change social conditions." Page 32 of the text is one of the mentions about condescension, when it says "the larger portion of the people to avoid could be categorized as the condescending, sympathetic, over-solicitous, intrusive or anxious types.." Empathy is the general feeling of being aware of a predicament or plight, sympathy is more of an intellectual accord and condescension is the act of feeling that you are better than someone else. If the latter is applied to someone with a disability, that is truly vile and insipid. As noted through both the Shapiro and Linton texts, people that are disabled just want to be treated like everyone else and singling them out because of their disability when it is not clearly mundane to what is going on is not a good thing even if the underlying intentions are good.


In short, both Shapiro and Linton obviously bristle at the mistreatment, past and present, of disabled people. They want to be able to live normal lives just like able-bodied people, they want the distinction of their lives being worth just as much as others and they do not want their disability to pervade or take over the interactions and behaviors of others when it's not applicable or relative to the situation at hand. In short, if someone wheels in on a wheelchair, simply saying "hi" is much better than gratuitously and unnecessarily remind them that they're in the chair.


Linton, S. (2007). My body politic: A memoir. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan.

Shapiro, J.P. (1993). No pity: People with disabilities forging a new civil rights…[continue]

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