In Week 2 we discussed how disability affects the individual as well as caregivers and others related to the person with a disability. This week we will explore the broader cultural attitudes that play such a significant role in the lives of persons with disabilities. These attitudes reach far, not only in their effect on persons with disabilities but in their effect on the making of social policy that determines the availability of resources such as funds, and supportive services for persons with disabilities and thus, their quality of life.
One example of cultural attitudes can be found in the Media Enabled Musketeers Project that is comprised of 12 short films made by persons with disabilities in the U.S. and Russia. It is a joint American-Russian project whose goal is to educate the general public about the challenges and triumphs of persons with disabilities and in the process, promote peace between the two countries.
One of the 12 films can be seen on UTube: “Don’t Look Down on Me” by Jonathan Novick:
1. Watch the short film and respond to the following questions:
A. What is your immediate response to the film?
B. What cultural attitudes are reflected in it?
C. How do these attitudes mirror your own? How do they differ?
2. What is the political and social significance of the following comment:
“Disability only becomes a tragedy for me when society fails to provide the things we need to lead our lives—job opportunities or barrier free buildings, for example. It is not a tragedy to me that I’m living in a wheelchair.” (From “My Body Politic” by Simi Linton)