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#1 ‘Aversive disablism: subtle prejudice toward disabled people’ by Mark Deal

01/04/2011

To take advantage of Routledge’s free Education journal access over the course of April 2011, I’m presenting papers to highlight research with powerful applications in the fields of technology, disability and education. Comments and suggestions are, as always, welcome.

DEAL, M. (2007) Aversive disablism: subtle prejudice toward disabled people. Disability & Society, 22, 1, 14.

Disability and Society

Disability and Society

Aversive Disablism is a little-known social phenomenon that exerts huge influence in the lives of people with disability. Deal’s paper highlights the importance of understanding and challenging this form of subtle disablism to ensure (amongst other aims) that design communities responsible for our built (or digital) environment do not perpetuate a society that actively disables people with impairments. In this sense, aversive disablism represents an important concept, without which any vocabulary of disability or design is incomplete. I drew on this paper for my 2010 Blogging Against Disablism post and Web4All joint paper with Brian Kelly and David Sloan last year, applying Deal’s arguments to incorporate online environments. Deal writes lucidly for a broad audience, as such this paper represents essential reading for all.

Further reading:

  • Consider Goggin and Newell’s groundbreaking 2003 book Digital Disability. This identifies the outcomes of web developer’s disregard for disabled users requirements  as “doing production”, resulting in a disabling web that enacts disability. The authors arguments are developed for contemporary Web 2.0 discourse by Ellis and Kent (2010) in their book Disability and New Media. Ellis and Kent develop this notion of “doing production” with regard to Social Networking Sites – their insights into the structural production of disability in social networks, I feel, resonates strongly with Deal’s notion of aversive disablism.

Next post out on Monday 4th.

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