Hello! I’m Josh Gatz, a junior here at the University of Michigan studying Neuroscience with future aspirations of medical school and becoming a psychiatrist or emergency room doctor.  My interests in disability studies stem a lot from my involvement on the executive board in the campus group Best Buddies.  This is an organization where each member is paired with a peer from the surrounding community with learning or developmental disabilities and focuses on forming one on one friendships through weekly communication and monthly activities.  The group also focuses on raising disability awareness in the community here on campus.  Besides Best Buddies, I’m also involved in the University of Michigan Tae-Kwon-Do team, a sport I’ve done since I was 8 years old, and the triathlon team.  My goals for this class include developing a better understanding of what disability studies really is, and learning how I can do my part as an advocate of the disabled community.

                I felt the reading for today focused a lot on overcoming the social construct restricting individuals with disabilities.  I especially appreciated the Barbie Doll Model, which gives a strong overview of how different aspects of the society we live in have created their own definition or idea about disabilities – and more importantly how these labels discriminate against those with disabilities.  On page 11, Linton brushes on this topic and how the term disability should not be used as identification.  I feel that this idea is critical in overcoming discrimination, because this sort of labeling limits someone with a disability to a single role and fixates on solving the problem of their disability rather than integration into society.

                Linton puts a lot of emphasis on the importance of vocabulary and the power word choice has on the social implications of what you say.  She warns of simplifying the group down to a single name, and the connotation certain words like “cripple” and “overcoming a disability” have.  Shakespeare’s description of the social model provides a more practical version of defining disability, one that is actually in existence.  He fails to elaborate much on the “normalcy” discussion, but Linton talks about how this dichotomy where one depends on the other creates absolute categories that place people with disabilities in a separate group, furthering the discrimination between those with and without disabilities.


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