Collaboration on my group project seemed to go according to plan.  From the start, Emma, Rebecca, and I agreed to work together equally and all be involved with the project’s progress.  In class, we worked to put together our proposal and discussed proper interview questions to ask.  On Sunday, all three of us took about 4 hours out of our day to help pick up and drop off people, as well as conduct the interviews.  No one was left out of anything.  Tuesday night and in class, Rebecca worked on transcribing the interviews while Emma and I cut and pasted the video together.  Everyone spent an equal amount of time on the project, and we were all very satisfied with the final product.  As we discussed in class, there were a few issues concerning collaboration with our interviewees.  We had to partially select which buddies we invited due to ride accessibility.  With the time allowed to work on this project, individuals who lived far away or couldn’t get a ride to campus were not really an option, unfortunately.  Luckily, the 5 friends we did interview did an amazing job!

All three members of our group are on the Executive Board for Best Buddies, so the first thing that came to mind when answering the question of “what is disability studies” was how we could incorporate that experience into our project.  Throughout the semester, we realized all the information on disability studies that had been presented, though we read a number of amazing articles, came from the minds of individuals in academia.  We thought that it might be interesting to hear what people with disabilities outside of the academic realm thought about disabilities, and if the messages that had reached us reverberated in their lives.  We were also interested in what they would teach a class concerning disability studies, trying to incorporate the messages of a non-published author into our classroom.  They didn’t know who Linton, Garland-Thompson, or Siebers were, but their words carried heavy meaning that added to our understanding of disability studies, and also hopefully the rest of our class.

As far as individual reflection, I can honestly say I’ve learned to look at disabilities in a completely different way over the last few months.  Before this class, I never realized the size of the disability movement, or the implications my actions might have on others with disabilities.  I now notice myself being more conscious of my vocabulary, straying from medicalizing disabilities, and staying conscious of accessibility issues.  I’ve even been able to express my knowledge of the subject to others.  I participate in research at the VA hospital, and last Friday I gave a presentation on special needs patients to my fellow research assistants.  I was able to talk about the social model of disability, medicalization, and Garland-Thomson’s visual rhetorics.  As a pre-medical neuroscience major, I don’t usually get to participate in many classes involving social justice and culture studies, but I’m so thankful I was able to this semester. Overall this class has significantly changed how I look at disabilities, and will always be one of my favorite classes at the University of Michigan.

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