“In every society, there are ways of being locked out. Race, gender, or beauty can serve as the dividing point as easily as being sighted or blind. In every society, it takes many people--- both disablers and their disabled--- to get that job done” (McDermott, 4).
Ray McDermott’s article, “Culture as a Disability” emphasizes interesting and valid points that present society with an alternative meaning behind the word disabled. In various cultures, including American culture, disabled individuals are shunned from everyday interactions. At young ages, disabled people are segregated in educational systems, occupational settings, and home interactions.
“Common sense allows that persons unable to handle a difficult problem can be labeled "disabled" (McDermott, 1).
Many unknowing citizens confuse the term disability with the term inability. Because it may be a challenging task to teach or problem some concept to grasp does not mean there is an inability to learn. Withholding the perception that disabled people are not of value to society is not only negative but it is detrimental to the success of the disabled and the advancement of society as a whole. McDermott’s quote above expresses the limitations society presses upon its citizens and challenges us to fight the oppression in order to establish a free, safe, inclusive, and equal nation.
Many schools have been created that specifically focus on the education of disabled students. Even more of these schools goodheartedly specialize on specific developmental disabilities and aim to provided more catered learning in less restrictive environments. Although this is great, McDermott views are that “disabilities are approached best as a cultural fabrication”. This is explained through thoughts that “different” results in being “not able” therefore being “disabled”. Although these schools specialized in helping these disabled students they may also be confirming the idea that those who are disabled should be segregated from those who are not. Both sides are understandable and it is difficult to proclaim one method as unkind.
In my previous paper, I reflected my experiences at an inclusion elementary school. I mentioned the lack of segregation between the disabled and able-bodied students and how in class I was learning with students who struggled with Down Syndrome, Autism, blind, deaf, learning disabilities, or speech impairments. I also mentioned how some of my earliest forms of literacy were introduced through reading aloud, pairing up and reading with disabled or nondisabled friends. In addition, the principal of my elementary school was blind and served as an inspiration to all the students and teachers there.
My elementary can serve as an example of McDermott’s theory that the challenge is first, understanding and realizing that cultural values can be limiting and exclusive, and second, it is our duty as citizens to recreate norms and create an environment where all can succeed. My education was not compromised by the addition of disabled peers nor was I at a disadvantage in learning. In order to ensure that more schools can incorporate this inclusion into their mission we must provide teachers with adequate aid in the classroom. Numerous teachers are placed in situations where they have too many students to attend to and the addition of students who require much more attention and help is unfair and very chaotic. Thus, in order to guarantee the success of all students additional teachers, specialists, and support must be incorporated into mainstream classrooms as well.