Great podcast episode. Link below. Here's an excerpt from the transcript:
Under the social model, disability is reframed as a social construct that ultimately marginalizes and oppresses people. Simplistically, if an individual is socially marginalized due to a perceived impairment or are unable to physically navigate a space because of a lack of access, they then become, quote, ‘disabled’. In this way, it is not the impairment that has limited their choices and opportunities, but a given society’s reaction to their impairment.
As to the episode suggestion, I’d like to suggest the history of deaf individuals on Martha’s Vineyard as studied by Nora Groce in Everyone Here Spoke Sign Language: Hereditary Deafness on Martha’s Vineyard. It is an outstanding example of inclusion and acceptance in an otherwise pretty bleak history of disability. Historically, Martha’s Vineyard was a relatively isolated island with a high rate of people who were deaf and, uniquely, the hearing individuals all learned sign language to include their deaf community members instead of excluding them. This allowed people who were deaf to be full-fledged participants in the community, because they did not face any significant language barrier.
I have found that when explaining the idea that disability is a social construct to people, I’m often met with a fair amount of skepticism. I like to use the example of Martha’s Vineyard to show how the social model of disability works in actual practice: when society removes barriers, individuals do not become disabled, as they otherwise would, by perceived impairments.