What is Redefining Disability?
Redefining Disability is an interactive blogging project I developed in order to promote better representation for people with disabilities in the media. See this post for more about the project’s goals and ways you can help.
What Is “Disability” and Why Are We Seeking to Redefine It?
The concept of disability is a social construct. That makes it hard to answer the question of “what is disability?” Because the definition changes based on cultural models and preconceptions. Basically, the answer will depend on who you are asking.
In our culture, I think people tend to define it as “a biological limitation” or “bodily imperfection.” That definition is harmful and based on the assumption that some human bodies are “normal” or “function within normal parameters” while others are sub-par and/or broken.
Historically, people with disabilities have been feared, mistrusted, treated as objects of shame and derision, and viewed as less capable or incapable of leading independent, self-sufficient lives. That is changing, but the overwhelming view is still that disability is a “problem” or tragedy that an individual has to overcome.
The Redefining Disability Project exists to challenge these cultural perceptions. This project takes the view that “disability” itself is not a problem but a natural part of human experience.
All so-called disabilities are natural, even if their origins relate to physical or mental trauma. I don’t equate “disabilities” with problems or limitations on an individual level.
The problem is with the society that limits people, not with the individuals whose bodies function differently than the perceived norm.
For a more detailed explanation, please check out this post the September 2014 round of Redefining Disability entries.
How to Participate in the Redefining Disability Project.
The Redefining Disability Project has three independent features. (It’s been expanded from two when we started in 2014.)
- The first feature of the project is a series of topical/information related articles posted on rosebfischer.com. These are general social commentary, informational, and media related posts. Anyone is welcome to contribute. See Guest Posting below. You can also participate by answering the questions posed at the end of each of these posts.
- The second feature of the project is The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge. The Awareness Challenge is a series of more detailed questions that I’ve put together for bloggers to answer at their own pace on their own blogs.
- The third feature of the project is a collection of posts that are specific to writing and storytelling with characters who have disabilities. For 2015, these posts focus on Adanna’s Beginning, a story I began as an example piece for Redefining Disability. You can participate by taking part in story analysis discussions and reading/commenting on the finished stories as they are posted.
Guest Posting/Author Perspectives
I want the Redefining Disability Project to be about more than my personal opinions and perspectives, so I’ve opened the series up to any blogger who wants to write about disability issues, especially related to media perceptions and social constructionism. If you have a post or an idea for one, please read the Guest Posting Guidelines and use my contact form.
For a little more on my background:
I’m a woman in my late thirties. I was born with cerebral palsy and use a wheelchair. I’ve acquired several chronic health challenges through my 20s and 30s. I have a background in disability education and advocacy on a volunteer basis, but they are not my career focus. My views related to disability are mostly (but not entirely) consistent with the Independent Living Movement’s core philosophy. There are some aspects of disability I can speak to quite well, but others with which I have no direct experience.
Who can contribute?
Anyone is welcome to contribute, but I’m specifically looking for authors whose experiences with disability are different from mine.
The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge
The challenge runs independently from the topical series and Adanna’s Beginning. That means, if you’re taking part in the challenge, you can make your posts weekly or monthly however you choose even when I’m not posting topical content.
Beginning in June 2015, you must sign up to participate.
- Create an index post or page on your own blog. The easiest way is to simply copy the challenge questions and paste them into your post or page. Then, as you answer questions add your own link. (Please don’t simply link to a category or tag on your blog. I have RSI and can’t scroll through these very well.)
Add a comment to the Masterlist
Please include the following:
Your blog URL:
The days you will be posting:
Link to your challenge index page:
If you’re currently making challenge posts, you can continue as you are. If you don’t have a challenge index page, please create one by July 30 2015.
2. Please include the words Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge Question # in your post titles! The question # is important for me to build the anthologies!
3. Please tag your posts “Redefining Disability.”
If you’re sharing posts on Twitter, please use the hashtag #RedefiningDisability and please only use ONE additional hashtag. (Share the post again the next day if you want to use different hashtags.)