Dealingwith Disability Issues — Book Review and Literature Review
PartA: Book Review
Berger(2013) provides interesting insights that are altogether critical tounderstanding and conceptualizing the disability issues of thecontemporary society and coming up with ways of resolving them. Inessence, the book touches on different areas and puts diverse themesinto the perspective for all those who must be concerned about theproblem.
Oneof the most notable areas that the book addresses is the overview ofdisability in the context of the contemporary society. Differentthemes are presented, but the notion of the constrained status quo isperhaps the most outstanding. Berger (2013) discusses that thesociety continues to view the persons with disabilities from astereotyped angle — that they are incapable, unfit, burdensome andundesirable. Interestingly, it seems the genesis of the constrainedstatus quo is not new. The author equivocally notes that, throughouthistory, people have been ideally compelled to perceive the personswithincapacities withsome form of discomfort, acts that have never augured well with theaffected individuals. In illustration of this, the example ofFranklin Roosevelt, who was considered one of the successfulpresidents in the annals of the United States, is mentioned.Roosevelt reportedly had to hide his polio-induced paralysis, lestpeople would think that he was incapable of leading them. Examples ofmisconceptions about disabilities as a curse are also highlighted.For instance, Berger (2013) cites that while the bible teaches thatthe society should treat people with disabilities well (Leviticus),it also admonishes that if people do not follow the God’s command,they will be inflicted with madness, confusion of mind and blindness(Deuteronomy).
Theauthor is also quick to note that part of the challenge to thedisability issue lies in its definition. The definitions ofdisability are confusing and subjective, and need to be rethought byquestioning the purpose and the motives of people endorsing it. Forinstance, the insurance agencies may develop a certain criterion touse in judging the state of disabilities, a move that happens to beoriented towards maximizing profitable returns from tailoredinsurance policies. Based on the perspectives of the disabilitystudies, however, Berger (2013) conceives that the accuratedefinitions must first be able to distinguish between disability andimpairment. In this case, impairment is conceived as a biologicalcondition characterized by the loss of physical, cognitive, orsensory functionalities. In contrast, disability is the inability ofperforming essential tasks resulting from the impairment. While theword ‘handicap’ would have been alternative for disability, it isno longer popular because of the negative connotations of referringto affected persons as inferior or deficient.
Ona positive note, however, Berger (2013) is quick to acknowledge thedrastic social developments that the society has been embracing tosupport the persons with disability. These positive developments havebeen attributed to the emergence of the medical models, whichadvances the notion that disability is a medical condition, ratherthan a mystery. This approach calls upon the society to view thepeople with disabilities with benevolence and as the individuals whoare worth medical diagnosis and treatment. However, the derivativetreatments of benevolence paved the way for another challenge — itbred pity, which happens to be another dimension of stigmatization ofthe affected persons as less being who need nothing less than empathyand sympathy. Yet these developments also served as a framework foremergence and growth of human rights movements to agitate for thewelfare of the persons with disabilities, whose presence transcenddifferent parts of the world. Berger (2013) also discusses that thedevelopments have also been positive when jugged based on theresponses from the law. The most notable forerunner of laws touchingon disability was the Americans with Disability Act passed in the1990s. This legislation was significant because it acknowledged therights and needs of the persons with disabilities, and focused oninducing reforms that would include them at all spheres of life.
Despitethese developments, however, the society is still far from fulfillingall that is desired about the issue issue. The society continues tostereotype, discriminate, and exclude the persons with disabilities.Berger (2013) mentions the pop culture media as one of theimpediments to the reform process. For instance, while the filmindustry has been progressive, as evidenced by the production ofinsightful movies such as Grimms’Fairy Tales, theprogress has been uneven. Inhis view, the media continues to mute the persons with disabilitiesthrough underrepresentation, misrepresentation, and exclusion. Forinstance, when disability is showcased, it is often presented in theform of humor to the extent that it seldom warrants objectivereflections from the audience.
Onthe overall, the author is assertive that, based on the developments,the future of persons with disability is headed in the positivedirection. Nevertheless, Berger (2013) highlights various notableareas that would be part of the social change process and discussionson disability issue. One of the areas is the paradox of the computertechnologies, which concerns itself with whether they will be capableof rising above the challenges to be seen to be inclusive of thepersons with disabilities, as well as lead the way in advancingtechnological solutions to the common problems that the societyfaces. The second issue will be how to deal with different forms ofemerging ethical dilemma, for instance, concerning the issue ofgenetic selection and physician-assisted suicide targeted at peoplewith disability. The third issue would pertain to how medicalapproaches to disability could be integrated into disability studies.
Inconclusion, the aim of this paper has been to review the book byBerger (2013), focusing on its insights and contribution to thedisability studies. It is established that the book providesinteresting insights that are altogether critical to understandingand conceptualizing the disability issues of the contemporary societyand serving as a framework for resolution, touching on differentareas. The books put diverse themes into the perspective of all thosewho must be concerned about the problem. It can be consideredinsightful because it provides comprehensive insights forconceptualizing the outlook of the disability issue in the face ofthe ways of the contemporary society. In doing so, it also goes backinto history to present to the audience the genesis of the disabilityproblems. Through the discussions, the book adopts the tone of aconcerned advocate who wants a change in status quo, presenting asomewhat divergent, but constructive perspective by which thecontemporary society should perceive and support the social progresstouching on disability. It singles out some of the areas ofweaknesses in the ways of the society and provides reneweddiscussions that certainly make a solid foundation by which thesociety can perceive and make sense of the disability phenomenon.
Berger,R.J. (2013) IntroducingDisability Studies,Lynne Rienner Publishers, London
LiteratureReview — Dealing with Disability Issues
Theliterature on disability is documented and it addresses diverseissues that can only be summarized in thousands of pages. Forconvenience, therefore, the present review was only interested in onekey area — how to deal with the disability problem. It isestablished that even this single area spans an array of literature.The inclusion and exclusion criteria was limited to consider only thepeer reviewed sources with recent publications, and with a focus onthe context of the United States. The included literature provideddifferent insights for helping conceptualize the disability issues,presenting themes such as the disability challenge overview, theproblems and the potential solutions. The themes can be broadlycategorized and discussed under the subjections as disability problemoverview and the challenges of addressing the issue.
Overviewof the Problem
Therelevant literature considers that, although the society is embracingan array of reforms to support people with disabilities, there isstill much that needs to be done on the overall. According to Davis(2013), for instance, the challenge of stigmatization,discrimination, and stereotyping continues to prevail. The authorhighlights that persons with disabilities are seldom considered asuseful participants in the workforce. Therefore, they are oftenexcluded by the mainstream employment practices. Besides, this groupof people often experience different challenges that prevent themfrom securing employment, including stereotypes, stigma, andprejudice. Interestingly, this scenario prevails at the backdrop ofobservations that some individuals with disabilities have proven tobe resourceful to the workforce, making valuable contributionstowards social, economic, and political development (Davis, 2013).
Thisview is also echoed by Scheid(2015) whonotes that the problem of discrimination against the persons withdisability is far from being solved because there are many issuesthat need to be addressed at the society and institutional level. Theconsequences institutional disorderliness targeted at persons withdisabilities happen to be particularly profound. For example, theaverageearnings of persons with disability households are 55 percent of theother families. The high poverty level is attributed to socialproblems and the high rate of institutionalized exclusion. It hasalso been noted that the health outcomes of this group of peopletrail the rest of the members of the society. The average lifeexpectancy among the persons with disability is 60 years in men and68 years for the women. They are regarded as the most disadvantagedgroup in the society. In addition, the persons with the disabilitysuffer from diseases attributed to poor living standards, forexample, scabies and pneumonia. This group of persons is three timesvulnerable to diabetes, and it is twice likely to contractheart-related complications when between ages 35 and 44 compared tothe rest of the Americans. The health disparity exists in the accessmedical services and in the treatment of chronic diseases such ascardiovascular disorder, kidney diseases, and the oral health, too.This group of people has limited access to quality healthcare and itis isolated because of the illness that affects the members. Theleading causes of deaths among the people with disabilities between2006 and 2010 were cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and injuries(Scheid,2015).
Apartfrom providing information on the overview of the issue, the relevantliterature has also discussed various limitations of efforts aimed ataddressing the needs of the people with disabilities. For instance,Davis (2013) discusses that the society is lagging behind infulfilling the needs of this people because of lack of awareness onwhat needs to be done. The author mentions that even the primarycaregivers, including the immediate family members, do not happen tounderstand what they ought to do to support challenged persons. Thesociety continues to view the persons with disabilities from astereotyped angle that they are incapable, unfit, or burdensome,among other ways. The author recommends that part of the process ofreforms should be to educate the communities (Davis, 2013). Majolaand Dhunpath(2015) discussthat the lack of leadership commitment is also a constraint ofrealizing desirable results. For example, the author mentions thatthere is the lack of will in funding the change processes. Theleadership also happens to be slow in passing reforms, setting legalframeworks and initiating the change processes (Majola&Dhunpath,2015).
Nevertheless,Vedelerand Schreuer (2012) observethat in some cases, the challenges arise from the resourcelimitations. In part, the changes aimed at fulfilling the needs ofthe challenged persons are so demanding that the available resourcescannot adequately satisfy the requirements. In this regard, theprocess of thinking about solutions to the disability problem alsoneeds to consider the resource factor (Vedeler& Schreuer, 2012).Nevertheleess,Prashant and Kumar (2015) presentanother interesting point about the disability issue — lack ofinclusivity. For example, the author mentions that education andinfrastructural designs are limited because they do not always put inmind the implications that the products would have on this group ofusers (Prashant& Kumar, 2015).Inthis regard, literature can be seen to be influential because itidentifies various areas of weaknesses that practice needs toaddress, yet it also creates the allowance to ask questions onwhether such views can be generalized to the mainstream society.
Inconclusion, the aim of this section has been to review literature onthe disability issues in the contemporary society. It has been notedthat literature is documented and it addresses diverse issues thatcan only be summarized in thousands of pages. For convenience,present review focused on one area: how to deal with the disabilityproblem. The included literature shows different insights for helpingconceptualize the disability issues, introducing themes such as thedisability challenge overview, the problems and the potentialsolutions. The relevant literature considers that, although thesociety is embracing an array of reforms to support people withdisabilities, there is still much that needs to be done on theoverall. The mentioning of challenge of stigmatization,discrimination, and stereotyping happens to be conspicuous. Theconsequences of this treatment are profound and include lowereducational and health outcomes. Apart from the giving information onthe overview of the disability issue, the relevant literature hasalso discussed various constraints of addressing the needs of thepeople with disabilities. The constraints that have been notablymentioned include lack of awareness, limited leadership commitment,limited resources and lack of focus on inclusivity. Consequently,literature creates the allowance to question whether such views canbe generalized to the state of disability issues in the entire globe.
Davis,L. (2013). TheDisability Studies Reader,New York, Routledge
Majola,B. & Dhunpath, R. (2015). The development of disability-relatedemployment policies in the South African public service. Problemsand Perspectives in Management,14(1): 150-159
Prashant, S.,& Kumar, P (2015). Disability, Its Issues and Challenges:Psychosocial and Legal Aspects in Indian Scenario. PsychiatryJournal18(1): 195-205
Scheid,T.L. (2015). Stigma as a Barrier to Employment: Mental Disability andthe Americans with Disabilities Act, InternationalJournal Law Psychiatry,28, pp. 670-690.
Vedeler,J.S. & Schreuer, N. (2012). Policy in Action: Stories on theWorkplace Accommodation Process, Journalof Disability Policy Studies,22 (2), pp. 95-105.