Disability Visibility Book Summary - Disability Visibility Book explained in key points
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Disability Visibility summary

Alice Wong

First-Person Stories from the Twenty-First Century

4.2 (87 ratings)
34 mins

Brief summary

Disability Visibility by Alice Wong is a collection of writings by disabled activists and advocates, sharing their experiences and perspectives. It offers powerful insights into the disability rights movement and challenges ableist norms in society.

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    Disability Visibility
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    Disabled people’s stories are underrepresented in mainstream media.

    When she was growing up, Alice Wong didn’t see anyone who looked like her on TV or in magazines. Occasionally a character with a disability would be featured in a movie, but that character was invariably male. And white. And, often, his disability was portrayed as having ruined his life.

    Even today, more than 30 years since the Americans with Disabilities Act – or the ADA – made it illegal to discriminate against people with disabilities, there’s still little representation of disabled people in the media, politics, and publishing.

    In fact, a 2019 Lee and Low survey of the publishing industry revealed that only 11 percent of respondents described themselves as having a disability. That means that the vast majority of people making decisions about which stories are worth telling are nondisabled.

    The key message here is: Disabled people’s stories are underrepresented in mainstream media.

    Alice Wong decided to do something about this lack of representation of disabled people and their lives. If she couldn’t find the stories she craved, she’d produce some herself. She founded the Disability Visibility Project – or DVP – and set out to create an ambitious oral history archive, partnering with Storycorps to collect 140 stories of disabled people leading up to the 25th anniversary of the ADA.

    And she didn’t stop there. The DVP has gone on to use every possible medium to increase disabled people’s visibility. For example, it coined the hashtag #CriptheVote, and invited disabled people to live-tweet the 2016 Democratic primary debate. This created a crucial focus on disability rights that had been largely absent in the political discourse up to that point. By 2020, #CriptheVote had become so influential that it was even hosting Twitter town halls with presidential candidates like Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg.

    Foregrounding the stories of disabled people is essential to the battle for equity and political representation. But even more than that, it’s important because it allows for a nuanced representation of the huge spectrum of people who have disabilities. And it allows disabled people to share experiences with each other, interrogate stigma, and shape stories on their own terms.

    The Disability Visibility Project continues to do this work through its oral history project, podcast, blog posts, anthology, and any other avenue that becomes available – in the hope that in the future, all children will be able to see representations of themselves in the world as they grow up.

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    What is Disability Visibility about?

    Disability Visibility (2020) is a compilation of original essays by people with disabilities. There are too few stories about what it’s like to be a disabled person navigating environments designed for the nondisabled. This collection brings visibility to some of these diverse experiences, and shows how limiting our ideas about disability really are.

    Disability Visibility Review

    Disability Visibility (2020) is a powerful collection of personal essays that amplifies the voices and experiences of disabled individuals. Here's why this book is definitely worth reading:

    • With its diverse range of perspectives, it challenges preconceived notions and invites readers to gain a deeper understanding of disability.
    • Through honest and heartfelt storytelling, the book illuminates the resilience, creativity, and activism within the disabled community.
    • Its empowering narratives inspire readers to question societal norms, advocate for inclusivity, and create lasting change for individuals with disabilities.

    Who should read Disability Visibility?

    • Disabled people looking for stories that represent diverse experiences of living with disabilities
    • Nondisabled people interested in confronting their prejudices about what it means to be disabled
    • Activists wanting to strengthen their movements by making them more intersectional

    About the Author

    Alice Wong is a disabled activist, media maker, and research consultant. She’s the founder and director of the Disability Visibility Project and coproducer of the Disability Visibility podcast. From 2013 to 2015, she served on the National Council on Disability, an appointment by President Barack Obama.

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    Disability Visibility FAQs 

    What is the main message of Disability Visibility?

    The main message of Disability Visibility is to amplify the voices and experiences of disabled people, promoting inclusivity and understanding.

    How long does it take to read Disability Visibility?

    Disability Visibility can be read in a few hours. The Blinkist summary is available and can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Disability Visibility a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Disability Visibility is a powerful and eye-opening book. It provides important insights into the disability experience and promotes empathy and awareness.

    Who is the author of Disability Visibility?

    The author of Disability Visibility is Alice Wong.