Summary Of The Depoliticization Of Disability

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Kafer discusses the depoliticization of disability as she analyses the billboards used by the Foundation for a Better Life’s (FBL) “Pass it On” series. This depoliticization occurs as the FBL shifts responsibility for “overcoming” a disability onto an individual rather than the society around them and frames a “focus on personal responsibility [that] precludes any discussion of social, political or collective responsibility” (Kafer 89). Through this focus the FBL portrays that sticking with “community” values will provide all that one needs to overcome a disability, however they fail to recognize that the community they are basing their values on is geared towards discrimination and ableist mindsets. These billboards are not alone in their …show more content…
As Kafer describes, one of the comments on the FBL website in relation to the billboard featuring Christopher Reeves a person comments on how when they’re having a bad day they remind themselves that “I am not paralyzed and I can do this” (93). Likewise, on the billboard featuring “Team Hoyt” the credit goes to the father—an able bodied man—instead of the son. Both of these examples hint at the political assumption in mainstream media that disabled people have larger problems than able-bodied people, and this is a private matter to be dealt with by the individual instead of a matter that could benefit from societal change. In order to change this portrayal there needs to be a break in images of disability from the manner they are generally shown in. To do this disability needs to be shown in areas where one is used to seeing an able body, such as the fashion industry as Garland-Thomson discusses. This would help frame disability in a social and political manner as it “shakes our assumptions on the normal and the abnormal” (Garland-Thomson 24) as well as bridging the gap between public and private which is what the billboards fail to …show more content…
By portraying people as successful in spite of their disability mainstream media is expressing that people can only be accepted if they do their best to be “normal”, as defined by the majority of an ableist and discriminatory society. This perspective is different than that of disability activists as acceptance of disability is a prominent feature in many writings as something that needs to be done for progress to be made. Rachel Robertson demonstrates the effects of this in her piece as she describes how she has “become a kind of cross-cultural translator” (145) for her son and the world they live in. Due to her acceptance of her son and his differences she can play mediator in a society that doesn’t accept him because he’s not normal and doesn’t conform to the portrayal of disabled people in the media. The unrealistic expectations that the billboards set make it difficult if nigh impossible for disabled people to achieve, and because they don’t achieve these expectations society doesn’t accept them because they are viewed as not working hard enough to be

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