Date: November 20, 2019
Time: 4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. EST
Lives and Legacies of People With Intellectual Disability
This book (available late 2019) is an effort to construct a new way to view the cultural contributions of the lives of people with intellectual disability. For millennia, people with disability have frequently been subjects of scorn and disrespect. Aristotle asserted “. . . let there be a law that no deformed child shall live,” and in Nazi Germany tens of thousands of people with disabilities went to their deaths in euthanasia centers. For centuries, “outliers”—unbaptized infants, lost seamen, strangers, and people with disabilities found their final resting place in unmarked graves, isolated from family and community. In the 19th century people with ID were sometimes put on display as “freaks,” and death in 20th-century institutions could come in a variety of horrific ways—including violence, neglect, and medical incompetence or indifference.
Today we are more likely to see people with ID through the lens of empathy, acceptance, and love, and despite ongoing challenges, individuals with ID experience rights in many realms. The self-advocacy movement has given voice to those with ID, and contemporary views are more likely to recognize individuals for what they can do rather than what they cannot. So, we might wonder, has the legacy of people with ID changed as well?
This book shows how cultural views of persons with ID have changed—in terms of what it means to be human, abuse and misuse of the concept of intelligence, and the ethical dimensions of death with disability. Some people with ID have made lasting names for themselves, as advocates and inspirational spokespersons for people with disability, and as leaders in the movement away from inhumane models of care. Beyond those individuals who stand out as leaders, the broader social construction of disability offers a view of the roles and contributions of ordinary people with ID. The authors show how these citizens can be remembered in their families and communities for more than their disabilities. They should not be neglected in life nor nameless in death.
Kenneth Keith, PhD, University of San Diego
Heather Keith, PhD, Executive Director, Faculty Development, Radford University
This is an AAIDD webinar.