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Majority world disability & econonics & minority world decisions

July 9, 2012
English: Emblem of the United Nations. Color i...

English: Emblem of the United Nations. Color is #d69d36 from the image at http://www.un.org/depts/dhl/maplib/flag.htm (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have been doing a lot of self study about disability studies. In fact, my struggle to put what I have been learning into practice was a significant catalyst for starting this blog.

 The articles I have been reading recently are by disability studies scholars challenging themselves and their colleagues to re-look at how minority-world centred the field of disability studies is. Disability is greater in the majority (or what I used to call the developing or third) world. Yet most disability studies research is focused on people living in North America or Europe.

 I live in North America. I ask myself “What can I learn from reading these critical articles as well as reading articles that do focus on disabled people in the majority world?”. Well, one thing I have learned is that the United Nations conventions, treaties, and plans for improving the lives of disabled people likely do not adequately address the needs of the majority of disabled people in the world. This leads me to wonder how effective they are for the disabled people with whom I work. It reminds me to ask disabled people what they need rather than asking “experts”. However, it also reminds me that imposing capitalism and foreign aid strategies on countries whose resources are being exploited for minority world needs contributes to disabling people with impairments. It reminds me that lifestyle decisions I make (as a middle class North American) impact the lives of people all over the world. I’m not sure what I might do differently tomorrow because of this awareness. Any suggestions?

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2 Comments
  1. I agree that it is true that disabled people in different countries need different things. I also agree that there aren’t enough role models with disabilities in my community and society (small town, Canada). I believe that if we all interacted with more disabled people and more of us with invisible disabilites “came out”, some disabling barriers would be chipped away. Thanks for your comment. Sheila

  2. Gabby permalink

    As a visually impaired foreigner in Vietnam, I can tell you that there are 4.4 million people with disabilities here. If you look at my website, you will gain some insight into what the situation is like. http://www.eye-will.org

    I can also tell you that there aren’t enough role models with disabilities out there. Experts tend to put limitations on what people with disabilities should or shouldn’t do. Also, each country is different. Blind Americans need technology, blind Vietnamese need braille paper, slates and stylus and canes. Sometimes the experts come to Asia,unable to speak the language and ignorant about local culture, and want to implement Western methods of teaching…. They are not able to think outside the box.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

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