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4 Ways To Understand The Diversity Of The Disability Community


3rd January 2020

4 Ways To Understand The Diversity Of The Disability Community
by Andrew Pulrang

Diversity & Inclusion

It’s not easy to get a handle on what “The Disability Community” thinks.

In July of last year, Rutgers University professors Lisa Schur and Douglas Kruse published a report on disabled people’s voting trends in the 2018 elections, which was a followup on a major report they issued on how disabled Americans voted in 2016.

A background goal of these reports, one that disability activist groups are particularly interested in, is to try to identify what a “disability voting bloc” might look like and how it might shape not just disability policy, but actual elections. As we enter another big election year, with signs of more voting and political activity by disabled people, is it yet possible for candidates to harness a “disability vote?” Kruse and Schur’s data suggest that disabled Americans are nearly as diverse and politically polarized as the population at large. Disability itself is a widely diverse set of experiences, and disabled people’s views on disability issues fall into several very different patterns. 

And it’s not just a puzzle for politicians. How can companies, community organizations, and individuals really know how to treat disabled people in everyday life properly when the disability community itself contains so many different perspectives and opinions? How do disabled people explain ourselves and what “we” want, when we so rarely agree with each other?
People with different kinds of disabilities do share significant problems and experiences in common, as well as certain basic priorities, such as physical mobility, the right to make our own decisions, and the struggle for both financial stability and social respect. But then why are there such enormous differences by nearly every measure among the approximately 61 million people with disabilities in the United States?

The disability community’s diversity can be confusing, but it’s not incomprehensible. We just need to dig a bit deeper to understand some of the most important differences in experience and thinking among people with disabilities, Here are four worth exploring ...

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