Disability Politics and Theory

dpt cover

Disability Politics and Theory Cover: Orange and red dots positioned together to form the close up of a human eye.

I will add to this more soon, but basically it is a combination of years of research on, organizing around and thinking about disability.

Soon, there will be a plain language guide to make it even more accessible, although it is written in a pretty accessible way. And, because there are copy editors at Fernwood, even my spelling is good.

To pick up a copy go to your independent book store or pick it up online

Here’s the official blurb:
An accessible introduction to disability studies, Disability Politics and Theory provides a concise survey of disability history, exploring the concept of disability as it has been conceived from the late 19th century to the present. Further, A.J. Withers examines when, how and why new categories of disability are created and describes how capitalism benefits from and enforces disabled people’s oppression. Critiquing the model that currently dominates the discipline, the social model of disability, this book offers an alternative: the radical disability model. This model builds on the social model but draws from more recent schools of radical thought, particularly feminism and critical race theory, to emphasize the role of intersecting oppressions in the marginalization of disabled people and the importance of addressing disability both independently and in conjunction with other oppressions. Intertwining theoretical and historical analysis with personal experience this book is a poignant portrayal of disabled people in Canada and the U.S. — and a radical call for social and economic justice.

Building Models and Constructing Disability • Constructing Difference, Controlling Deviance: The Eugenic Model • Diagnosing People as Problems: The Medical Model • For Us, Not With Us: The Charity Model • Revolutionizing the Way We See Ourselves: The Rights and Social Models • Looking Back But Moving Forward: The Radical Disability Model • References • Index
About the Author

A.J. WITHERS has been involved in radical organizing, specifically within the radical disability, anti- globalization and anti-poverty movements for 15 years, and has been employed as an organizer with the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP).

Rights Model

The rights model is primarily a fight for access to the privileges people would otherwise have had if they were not disabled. A focus on rights is not a struggle for fundamental social change; rather, it strives to make changes within the existing system.

The idea behind disability rights is that:

A human rights approach to disability acknowledges that people with disabilities are rights holders and that social structures and policies restricting or ignoring the rights of people with disabilities often lead to discrimination and exclusion. A human rights perspective requires society, particularly governments, to actively promote the necessary conditions for all individuals to fully realize their rights.

This is the definition of DRPI (Disability Rights Promotion International). According to this group and many other rights groups, “As full citizens with equal rights, people with disabilities are entitled to: access to education, equal rights to parenthood, rights to property ownership, access to courts-of-law, political rights such as the right to vote, equal access to employment”

However, the rights approach does not address fundamental flaws within the system that disabled people are seeking inclusion in. For example, the rights model recognizes the right of disabled people to own private property but does not question fundamental injustices attached to property ownership. Further, it does not necessarily address colonialism which has resulted in much of the property ownership in many parts of the world to be a direct result of racism and theft.

It is important to acknowledge that much of the access and privileges that disabled people have today is a direct result of the people who struggled and continue to struggle for disability rights. Many people have fought very hard for disabled people’s inclusion in society and these struggles need to be recognized and celebrated. However, we need to do more than fight for rights within society as it is structured now, we need to fight for social justice for everyone and that means restructuring society.