A clear path of how we can to do make our society more inclusive of those with disabilities.Leading disability studies scholar working to improve disability awareness
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Disability Studies: History, Rights, and Inclusion
When people find out they are pregnant, they often undergo genetic testing, and if the results indicate a high probability of the child having a disability, they consider terminating the pregnancy. This is largely because the dominant perception is that a disability leads to a life of hardship, not just for the individual with the disability, but for their family as well. How did this negative image of disability come about?
In ancient times, people with disabilities were thought of as bearers of "messages from the gods," "wonders," and "beings with unimaginable abilities." However, as times changed, their status evolved into perceptions of being "deformed", "entities to be eradicated", and "patients." But why did this change occur?
Professor Rosemarie Garland-Thomson analyzes this phenomenon through the lens of disability studies. She argues that disability is a sociocultural construct and uses eugenics and stigma theory to explain how people with disabilities have been discriminated against and excluded. She further highlights that attempts to eradicate disability continue to this day, as exemplified by prenatal testing and selective abortion. Through her lecture series, Professor Thomson explores the history and culture of disability and offers concrete steps in which we can move towards an inclusive society.
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Rosemarie Garland Thomson
Professor of English and bioethics at Emory University Organizing committee, International Academy for Bioethical Inquiry, 2017-present Senior Scholar Award, Society for Disability Studies, 2010 Utne Reader’s “50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World,” 2009 Author of Staring: How We Look (2009), Extraordinary Bodies: Figuring Physical Disability in American Culture and Literature (1997), and more
Rosemarie Garland-Thomson teaches English and bioethics at Emory University and serves as a Senior Advisor at the Hastings Center, a premier bioethics research institute in the United States. Garland-Thomson herself has a disability, having been born with just six fingers on both hands and one arm shorter than the other. Like countless others with disabilities, she has admitted it was difficult to accept that she was disabled for fear of being stigmatized. Drawing on her own experiences, she is committed to creating a society where people with disabilities can openly express their identities. She was awarded the Senior Scholar Award by the Society for Disability Studies in 2010 and actively advocates for the importance of the disability rights movement through her books, lectures, and research.
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