Marshak et al- Exploring Barriers

The number of students with disabilities that are choosing to attend college is increasing in the United States. However, many of those students do not use resources provided to them for their disabilities, and Marshak et al explores this in research they conducted. Some students chose not to use accommodations because they wanted to be more self-sufficient and wanted to break free from stigmas they had in high school; because they didn’t know enough information about the resources they were provided or even because they had negative interactions with professors in trying to receive accommodations.

One example that stood out most to me about this article was the students whose professors just didn’t seem to understand their responsibility to provide aid. Some would ask professors for notes from lectures or for overhead slides and were told no by the professor. Others, when they explained why they had missed a class because of their disability, were asked for the real reason, and not an excuse for missing class. This makes me curious about how well professors here at Purdue provide accommodations for those in need. Do they read the material sent to them by the DRC, or do they choose to ignore it as professors from this study did? The professors that would not aid students with disabilities helped me understand the “denial of disability experience” microaggression differently. They would not recognize that these students had actual disabilities, so in a way, they are saying “everyone has a disability. Stop using that as an excuse.” I now wonder whether the general population at wide sees disabilities in that way, even though that could not be further from the truth.

Miserando- “Spoon Theory”

Having a disability is one of the most inexplicable things that a person can try to explain, but Christine Miserando created an excellent metaphor to do so with just a handful of spoons. She gave them to her and told her for each task she “did”, a spoon would be taken away. She did this because disabled individuals don’t have unlimited “spoons”, or possibilities to choose from; they have to plan their entire days carefully.

In the Krannert building on Purdue campus, there are many things that have been done to accommodate for people with disabilities. However, when I think about those with chronic illnesses, there are still many issues that exist. Doors to enter or exit the building tend to be heavy for a person who is not able to exert much energy, and though there are buttons that can be pushed to open the door, these doors are often slow to work or are too often heavily trafficked by those that do not need them. The classroom doors all have handles that turn up and down, which is helpful to open them, but they are also heavy and do not have buttons to open them, which could potentially cause issues. The stairs in Krannert are steep and so might be difficult for a person who fatigues quickly to use.  The elevators in Krannert are rather large and accessible, but they are not very fast, and there are only two of them. Because there are only two, a person who is waiting on an elevator could potentially be late for a class or appointment, but they would be unable to take stairs because they could easily grow weary. Altogether Krannert is moderately accessible for disabled individuals, it could improve upon many aspects for people with chronic illnesses or even those that have mental disorders.

Dolmage: “Disability Myths”

This excerpt from Dolmage’s Disability Rhetoric was written to explain the various ways that disabled people are viewed and the “myths” that condition the population to think of them in those ways. These myths are often portrayed in popular movies, books, and the general media. They can also come from personal interactions of “normal” people with disabled people and the conclusions that are then formed by those “normal” people. Not all of the stereotypes that are used in association with disabled people are negative, but this piece by Dolmage makes one realize just how much society categorizes people based on what is wrong with them.

Overall I was very surprised by the accuracy of many of the myths that Dolmage names. Though this text was written around five years ago, I feel that many of these common stereotypes are still portrayed in media today. Some are better represented than they were before, but not all. For example, the idea that disability is isolating is still very widely shown in movies and tv shows. On the other hand, this myth can often be flipped and taken to the other extreme. In the book The Fault in Our Stars, for example, two teenagers with cancer fall in love, and go through their “disability” together. However, at the end of the book one of the teens dies and leaves the other ‘alone and isolated’. So while this myth seems to not apply at first, it does eventually. There are a few myths that I believe are slightly outdated with the American culture, though perhaps not in others. The myths that believe disability to be “signs from above” or “punishment from God” are most likely not held by a majority of the Western culture, though they are often used in media to increase sales of books or movies. Altogether, I believe that most of these myths are used in storylines today just as much as they were in the past, though they may be presented in slightly different ways.