Review: Demystifying Disability: What to Know, What to Say, and How to Be an Ally

Demystifying Disability: What to Know, What to Say, and How to Be an Ally Demystifying Disability: What to Know, What to Say, and How to Be an Ally by Emily Ladau
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ladau proves an accessible and helpful guide on understanding the complexities of disability in modern society.  Her approach is a not a definitive guide but an introduction to the expansive and complex with an invitation to go further but by starting with this book, the reader is off to a good start.  She doesn't claim perfect knowledge or understanding of all the complexities of disability and comes to it from her own intersectional experience and her own research on the topic.  The book has a little bit of everything to offer if you are new to the topic from a brief history to explaining the different categories of disability, to examining language and appropriate ways to interact with people with disabilities.  On that last point, it boils down to treating people with disabilities as the humans they are, asking and not assuming their language, needs, and views, and don't assume you know what's best for them. People with disabilities have been navigating their lives through an often hostile social and physical environment much of their lives; assuming that one is helping without actually getting permission can actually disrupt or do more harm. That part sticks strongest in Ladau's work: respecting autonomy over a person's body and whatever devices (essentially extended technical bodies) they may use to navigate the world.  Ladau's approach is welcoming and kind, acknowledging the confusion and absence of spaces to learn about this topic while also making sure the readers understand how vital it is that they do better.  

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