I think Thian raises some interesting issues, but leaves me wondering what
status Thian does accept?
I would also question who the"we" in 'we put people with different types of
under the same group' is. Surely the pre-eminent issue with the social
model is that an extremely diverse group are thrown together by virtue only
of shared exclusion (for want of a better term), so the 'we' would be those
outside the 'disabled community'? The crucial point is that in historical
terms, 'disabled' is a value laden label applied to certain people BY
I doubt whether there are many people engaged in advancing the human rights
of disabled people who are not painfully aware of the fundamental
differences between so large and diverse a community, an issue that
policy-makers are not afraid to use to their advantage (divide and rule).
For me, the disability community exists and comprises those who are prepared
to identify as being a 'disabled person' and, often though not necessarily,
identify with other disabled people - through shared experience or whatever.
Like the civil rights movement in 1960's America, disabled people unite to
celebrate what others demean; I know that my experience as a disabled person
is substantially different to that of many of my brothers and sisters - but
it does not stop me identifying with them through shared experience,
exclusion, concerns, values etc. etc.
Whenever a particular characteristic is used to differentiate between 'us'
and 'them', minorities are created within minorities - the increasing
politicisation of disability, by disabled people themselves, surely takes as
its target precisely the artificial and largely meaningless labels applied
to us? There is nothing new in this - hence the whole 'dilemma of
It is easy for the majority world to classify so diverse a community under
one head, precisely because it is ignorant and, in many cases, indifferent,
about us. Forming a 'cross-impairment community' is about individuals
choosing to identify with others. As a wheelchair user, my understanding of
sensory impairments, and the shared experience/culture of those with sensory
impairments is limited, but that does not prevent my joining them to say
'our views and
I find it difficult to contain my indifference about the labels that others
seek to place on me but find it difficult to contain my enthusiasm for a
united and supportive disability community. I respect your views, but
cannot accept them. What is the problem of being a minority within a
minority anyway? Those with enormous wealth and influence are a minority
within a minority and, presumably, are only too happy to flaunt the
'minority within a minority' card to their advantage.
Until such time as we live in a world where impairments are not made to
matter as much as they do now, I am entirely happy to accept the status of
being a minority within a minority because, irrespective of that label, I am
part of a community that I respect and where I feel 'at home'.
Thanks for raising some issues that prompt thought; best wishes