Understanding The Disabled Essay

1489 words - 6 pages

The first thought that crosses the mind of an able-bodied individual upon seeing a disabled person will undoubtedly pertain to their disability. This is for the most part because that is the first thing that a person would notice, as it could be perceived from a distance. However, due to the way that disability is portrayed in the media, and in our minds, your analysis of a disabled person rarely proceeds beyond that initial observation. This is the underlying problem behind why disabled people feel so under appreciated and discriminated against. Society compartmentalizes, and in doing so places the disabled in an entirely different category than fully able human beings. This is the underlying theme in the essays “Disability” by Nancy Mairs, “Why the Able-Bodied Just Don’t Get it” by Andre Dubus, and “Should I Have Been Killed at Birth?” by Harriet Johnson.
In the essay “Disability,” Nancy Mairs discusses the lack of media attention for the disabled, writing: “To depict disabled people in the ordinary activities of life is to admit that there is something ordinary about disability itself, that it may enter anyone’s life.” An ordinary person has very little exposure to the disabled, and therefore can only draw conclusions from what is seen in the media. As soon as people can picture the disabled as regular people with a debilitating condition, they can begin to respect them and see to their needs without it seeming like an afterthought or a burden. As Mairs wrote: “The fact is that ours is the only minority you can join involuntarily, without warning, at any time.” Looking at the issue from this angle, it is easy to see that many disabled people were ordinary people prior to some sort of accident. Mairs develops this point with heavy emotional appeals, arguing that the media, and therefore the population, do not see the disabled as ordinary people. She also uses ethical appeals by using the contextual argument pertaining to the media, and television in particular, writing: “The advertisers, who determine nowadays who will get represented publicly and who will not, deny the existence of me and my kind absolutely.” Nearly every house in America has at least one television, and when Mairs uses television as an example of disabled people being left out of the media, most people can think about it and believe it. They will remember not seeing disabled people in the media, and it will make all of Mair’s appeals more effective. Part of the public’s inability to see the disabled as normal people with a crippling condition comes from the relative lack of disabled protagonists in the media. Unless it is a biography, or a nonfiction work, disabled people rarely star in books, movies or shows. Mairs states that the able-bodied would benefit greatly from seeing disabled people in the same emotional and intellectual situations as themselves, whether it is a fictional display on the television, or a nonfiction work about the disabled in normal...

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