Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Dialogues on Disability

... a new series of interviews, by Shelley Tremain, launches today at the Discrimination and Disadvantage blog with inaugural guest Bryce Huebner.

One interesting feature of the interview is Bryce's discussion of whether his celiac disease should be viewed as a disability. There is a broad sense in which virtually everyone is disabled -- we are nearsighted, have allergies, experience back pain, etc. Yet, given our social structures, many of these disabilities are hardly disabilities at all. If I lived in a world in which corrective lenses were inaccessible, my 20/500 nearsightedness would have a huge impact on my life. As it is, I pop on my glasses and no problem! (In fact, I'm terrific at reading tiny print that eludes most others my age.) When I was in southern China a couple years ago, I had an allergic reaction to shellfish almost every day of my visit -- the food is so pervasive in the culture that even when it's not an ingredient, some residue often gets mixed in -- but in southern California, no problem. Conversely, in some culinary cultures, Bryce's celiac disease might hardly manifest; and we might imagine cultures or subcultures where being in a wheelchair is similarly experienced as only a minor inconvenience.


Anonymous said...

Celiac disease is still a disability.

We can't claim our food costs as medical costs on taxes, which is a small quibble. But we can't ever eat safely, out in the world. There's always that chance of contamination, which you experienced with shellfish in China. Eating dinner with friends or family becomes a big orchestrated event, unfortunately. People bringing food into my home have to get the "third degree".

Believe me, the cost we pay in time spent on the porcelain throne proves the disability.

I can see it now, if I was still working: "Sorry. Can you push back the meeting for a few hours? There was something wrong with my lunch; I'll be in the restroom for the next hour. With intermittent needs to visit it again, with not much warning." Lol


Eric Schwitzgebel said...

Yes, Meran, I agree!