Assign1 - CHP Disability Studies for Teachers Center on...

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CHP Disability Studies for Teachers Center on Human Policy Reassigning Meaning 1 The present examination of disability has no need for the medical language of symptoms and diagnostic categories. Disability studies looks to different kinds of signifiers and the identification of different kinds of syndromes for its material. The elements of interest here are the linguistic conventions that structure the meanings assigned to disability and the patterns of response to disability that emanate from, or are attendant upon, those meanings. The medical meaning-making was negotiated among interested parties who packaged their version of disability in ways that increased the ideas' potency and marketability. The disability community has attempted to wrest control of the language from the previous owners, and reassign meaning to the terminology used to describe disability and disabled people. This new language conveys different meanings, and, significantly, the shifts serve as metacommunications about the social, political, intellectual, and ideological transformations that have taken place over the past two decades. NAMING OPPRESSION It has been particularly important to bring to light language that reinforces the dominant culture's views of disability. A useful step in that process has been the construction of the terms ableist and ableism , which can be used to organize ideas about the centering and domination of the nondisabled experience and point of view. Ableism has recently landed in the Readers Digest Oxford Wordfinder (Tulloch 1993), where it is defined as "discrimination in favor of the able-bodied." I would add, extrapolating from the definitions of racism and sexism , that ableism also includes the idea that a person's abilities or characteristics are determined by disability or that people with disabilities as a group are inferior to nondisabled people. Although there is probably greater consensus among the general public on what could be labeled racist or sexist language than there is on what might be considered ableist, that may be because the nature of the oppression of disabled people is not yet as widely understood. NAMING THE GROUP Across the world and throughout history various terminologies and meanings are ascribed to the types of human variations known in contemporary Westernized countries as disabilities. There are various consequences of the chosen terminology and variation in the Reassigning Meaning 1
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degree of control that the named group has over the labeling process. The terms disability and disabled people are the most commonly used by disability rights activists, and recently policy makers and health care professionals have begun to use these terms more consistently. Although there is some agreement on terminology, there are disagreements about what it is that
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This note was uploaded on 11/10/2011 for the course SPN 211 taught by Professor Staff during the Spring '11 term at Miami University.

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Assign1 - CHP Disability Studies for Teachers Center on...

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