Quote: “Who are ‘the Disabled’?”

The disabled, therefore, are not a tangible and unproblematic collection of people but, rather, a population that is assumed to exist, a category into which able-bodied people can slot others who pose a threat to their own normal view of the world and to those who inhabit it, and into which those who identify themselves as disabled can welcome those whom they see as suffering the same marginalization and oppression as themselves. The issue of whether signing Deaf people are a linguistic minority or are disabled, for example, has generated intense debate within both Deaf communities and among disability rights activists. The problem of identity as being either Deaf or disabled derives from the way a disabled identity encompasses an individuals’ subjectivity in the same way as gender or race. Seeking to move beyond this essentialist view of identity, many Deaf people are seeking alliances with disability rights movements to counter the essentialist view that people with disabilities are inherently pathological. Those people are actively involved in the achievement of rights of people who are disabled refer to those who bask in their normality as “TABs” – temporarily able-bodied.

Damned for their Difference: The Cultural Construction of Deaf People as Disabled, by Jan Branson & Don Miller, pp xi – xii.

One thought on “Quote: “Who are ‘the Disabled’?”

  1. I consider my deafness a disability, because I am literally unable to do something (hear). For me, this doesn’t undermine the cultural significance of deafness or using ASL as a primary language.

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