What Does It Mean to be Disabled?

Lisa Egan argues that there are two different theories of looking at the word disability. The social model and the medical model, the social model is how society places barrier in the way of an impaired person. The medical model is when someone can’t function because there is something wrong with their bodies or brain. She also argues that there is a difference between the being impaired and being disabled. An impaired person is when a person can’t do current things because of their body or brain. A disabled person is someone that our society has built barriers disabling them just because they are impaired.

Precisely, Egan argues that there are two sociological ways of thinking about Disability. First, The social model is what allows us to understand that the problem with impaired people is how we see and treat them not the people themselves. For example: a person who got in an accident and is on a wheelchair now. Egan argues that we should call him a disabled person but only because of his society. Society has built barriers between him and his goals. One of the most common problems with society and impaired people is transportation. A person on a wheelchair has to wait and make sure that the wheelchair ramp on the bus actually work. Egan is saying that it is society’s duty to make sure that all buses have a wheelchair ramp because as of right now Society is putting barriers in front of impaired people.

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Furthermore Egan explains the other sociological theory, the medical model. She explains that the medical model is recognizing impaired people’s need for a better life. That is the good side to it but if we only go by the medical model then their needs are not our responsibility. The bad side to the medical model is that we as humans tend to look at disabled people as if it is their fault for being impaired and that it is none of our business to interfere. Therefore, Egan argues in favor of the social model she mentioned that the benefit of the social model is that we can better understand the problems with our society. Sometimes society does not meet disabled people’s need and that is why society literally disables at least some of them. For us as a society, treating an impaired person as disabled is a human thing to do but it isn’t the right way to approach the problem. Egan explained how we are looking through the wrong perspective of how to communicate with people that do things differently.

That is not all what the author was arguing, The author explains how being disabled and being impaired are two different things. Not only that-but also we tend to use the word disability in the wrong setting. Egan shows us how to think critically of what it means to be disabled. Critical thinking is to deeply think about a problem with no bias opinions to form an argument. An argument is composed of one or more premises with the intention of a true conclusion. Premises are claims that support the conclusion and a conclusion is inferred from the premises.

They are an impaired person. (the conclusion). These premises support their conclusion because it helps us to understand by definition that there is a difference between having a disability (Impaired) and being disabled. Yet, Egan defines herself as a disabled person and it’s important to understand what that means. Egan is saying that she is disabled but only by her society that has put barriers between her and her goals. Egan mentions that there’s only 20% of the stations that actually have wheelchair access. Which shows us that she is in fact disabled when it come to transportation inside her own city by the architects who built those stations.

In addition to help us understand, the difference between a disabled person and a person with disability. Egan used an analogy, an analogy is when someone uses an example to make it easier for the audience to understand, to make the unfamiliar familiar. She makes a comparison between what it means to be disabled and the effects of turning off the Wifi on a computer. Egan explains that if you turn the Wifi off, a notification comes up saying that the connection has been disabled. Egan questions why people don’t see it that the wifi is suddenly less able just like how society views disabled people to be unable to do something. Simply because we know that it stopped working due to a bigger force. When we look at it from Egan’s point of view, she is trying to explain that society is the bigger force that is disabling a person with impairments .

Although the author’s point of view makes sense, some people may object. An objector may say that disability has nothing to do with society, that society has no effect on disabled people and if it does then it is all in their head. They might even say that it is nobody’s fault that this person is disabled, it is just their luck. They used a thought experiment, an imagined experiment done when real ones can’t. They tried to explain that even if all the barriers are removed, disabled people will still have barriers that keeps them from reaching certain goals in their daily life. Which means that even if society helped with all their needs and removed all their barriers, there bodies are still limited and just can’t do certain things. No matter how the disabled person thinks about their disability and no matter how much society helps, there are certain things that a disabled person can’t do. As Egan said people might assume that she is delusional for defining herself as a disabled person and not a person with a disability. It is exactly what Foucault was worried about: Anyone who goes against people in power which is us people without impairment, they will say that the other person someone like Egan is in fact crazy.

In response to this objection, Egan said that she understand and agrees that her body can’t do certain things. Therefore she clarified the definitions of being impaired and disabled. She said that a disabled person is someone that society has built barriers in their way of reaching their goals because their bodies or brain are not functioning properly but Impaired is the actual condition. That is why, Egan defines herself as a disabled person and not a person with disability. The author explained why not every impaired person is disabled, as mentioned take Hannah Cockroft for example. Hannah Cockroft is a british wheelchair racer who won ten world titles and five Paralympic gold medals. This proves that she isn’t less able to do anything if she just has the right help. The author even said that she is unstoppable force but when it comes to transportation she is disabled by stairs and escalators.

Due to all these examples and explanation, I agree with Egan’s argument that there is a difference between a disabled person and a person with disability. I understand why she defines herself as a disabled person. She clarified that she is impaired by her body and only disabled by her society. I also agree that the social model is the preferable theory, where disabled people are not the problem, we are. We as a society have a duty to help impaired people and to give them a better life. Therefore from my point of view, I believe that Egan’s argument is successful and compelling and that the objector failed to prove his/her point.

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What Does It Mean to be Disabled?. (2021, Mar 27). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/what-does-it-mean-to-be-disabled/