The Disability Experience: Working Toward Belonging

Orca. (Orca Issues). Apr. 2021. 192p. pap. $24.95. ISBN 9781459819283.
Gr 7 Up–This book invites readers to rethink the way people with disabilities are viewed. Leavitt, who is blind, explains that people with disabilities want the same things everyone does: independence, opportunities, and the ability to reach their goals. Leavitt also details how historically those with disabilities have been seen as “other,” and covers segregation within institutions, ostracism, and the use of euthanasia for those with severe disabilities. Laws such as the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 were passed to protect those with disabilities. The book explains how new technology creates greater mobility and other solutions and disability represents only one aspect of a person’s life. The text centers on visible (blindness, deafness, physical) and cognitive disabilities. Communication disabilities (aphasia, stuttering, and autism) are acknowledged but not discussed in depth. The illustrations and sidebars contextualize the text and highlight a diverse population and a variety of individual stories. A glossary and an index are included. The book would be useful for reports, but its strength is a narrative voice that asks readers to contemplate another point of view. The last chapter explains how people without disabilities can be helpful, and encourages readers to consider a wide variety of options. It also urges readers to vote, pay attention, and civically participate as an ally.
VERDICT A strong, if not entirely comprehensive, introduction to disabilities.

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