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Disability at the Center

Becoming Human, Transforming Society
An Axis Presents Discussion

Written by Nikita Mehta

What does the word ‘disability’ really mean? How have historical perceptions of disability affected and shaped our current perceptions? What obstacles pose further challenges on the road to equal opportunity for people with disabilities?

On October 14th, Axis invited Luca Badetti -- a PhD candidate in the area of disability studies at UIC – to answer these important questions and inspire a discussion on inclusivity and community.

Luca Badetti started by breaking the word ‘disability’ into its constituent components – ‘dis’ and ‘ability’. He defined the prefix ‘dis’ as ‘lack’, and explained that the ‘lack of abilities’ we have on an individual level is what brings us together. Everyone is essentially ‘disabled’ in some way, shape, or form because we rely on other people for survival.

Badetti went on to describe his experiences with living in a L’Arche home, where people with and without disabilities (in the traditional sense of the word) come together to foster a sense community. The home is designed to provide a safe space for social integration and to promote equality, fairness, and compassion. While sharing his experiences, Badetti mentioned a particularly poignant conversation with one of his friends at the L’Arche home. During the conversation, his friends said, “Disability is something good. It’s not something to be feared. That’s the way I was made. I like myself.”

As Badetti launched into a chronicle of the history of disability, it became apparent that his friend’s modern perception of disability did not mirror historical perceptions. However, Badetti did acknowledge the great strides we’ve made in recognizing that disabilities are symbols of unity.

The seminar ended with an audience discussion on the ‘next steps’ to promote more inclusivity and increase opportunities for people with disabilities.

Nikita is a first year majoring in Biological Sciences. She is an incoming Axis board member for the 2015-16 academic year.
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