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Last year staffing cuts at the University of Waikato included the dismissal of senior staff in the Disability and Inclusion Studies Programme, which focuses on research into our inclusion in the education system. The reasons cited were predictable — low student numbers (read: money).
Disability is neither lucrative nor pretty. But cuts to a programme like this sends the message that disabled people are not worth including. That our education, our potential contribution to our communities and our selves (our bodies and personhood) are less valuable to society than that of our able-bodied counterparts. As far as study goes, we are left to our own devices here, unless we are lucky enough to have lecturers who include this content.
My response to these cuts was to think of all the reading and viewing I have done as a sociology student and Token Cripple, the texts in which disability is not only included but embraced. Here are just a few things that challenged my thinking on physical disability. Let’s start there. One step at a time, so to speak.
My recommended resource list for Crip 101:
- Accidents of Nature, Harriet McBryde Johnson (coming of age, crip fiction)
- “Gaping, Gawking Staring”, Eli Clare (essay on queerness, disability, and being looked at)
- Feminist, Queer, Crip, Alison Kafer (book, self-explanatory title)
- Stella Young on inspiration porn (TED Talk, Australian, disability humour)
- “I got 99 problems… palsy is just one”, Maysoon Zayid (TED Talk also)
- Margarita with a Straw (film, omg multiple people with disabilities in the same movie!)
- Youth and Disability: A Challenge to Mr Reasonable, Jenny Slater (part-academia, part-open letter/rant)
- “The Body Remembers: Tua-Back”, Pelenakeke Brown (essay, exploration of disability, womanhood, race)
- Philip Patston on supported autonomy (blog entry)