Summer 2009 Retreat

Summer 2009 Retreat

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Journal 12 - Disabilities. Natalie Johnson

Do you think that disability is more a concrete physical/mental characteristic or more a socially constructed way of classifying people? Reflect on your experience with disabilities in school. In particular, was there ever a time when you or another student was treated unfairly by a teacher or other adult because of a disability?

In terms of the first question, I'm not exactly sure what I think. I do believe that disabilities are a physical or mental thing that actually do exist. This is an obvious fact- some people have physical and mental disabilities. However, I do also think that there is a socially constructed classifying system for disabled people that is not necessarily the best way it could be.

I cannot think of a specific time in my life when anyone was treated unfairly due to a disability. However, I do know that the disabled kids at my high school were in completely separate classes from everyone else. They were not integrated into the school at all- completely isolated into classes only with other students of disability. I don't think that this is how it should be- of course if students with disabilities want to be separated into different classes so that they can be catered to more easily for their certain needs in the classroom, I think that that is completely fine. However, if a disabled student wants to be in classes with everyone else, I don't think that they should be automatically segregated against their will. They should be given the chance to be in classes with everyone else, because they may be perfectly capable of learning in that environment with all the other students depending on their disability.

Here at Cal, it is much different than it was in high school. I have a friend who is almost completely deaf, and uses a hearing aid. She has someone come to her classes with her and type as the professor is speaking so that she can keep up with what is going on in class. There is a specific propgram set up at Cal that does this for deaf students, and I think it is a great resource that is completely necessary. Disabled students are also given very early Tele-Bears appointments, which in some cases I think is great and in some cases not so much. For example, my friend has diabetes, and she is considered disabled. I don't think it's really fair for her to have an early Tele-Bears because her diabetes literally doesn't affect her classes at all. It isn't a situation where she has doctor's appointments all the time and needs certain clases to work around her medical schedule- even she herself has said there really is no point to it. However, that's just sort of a tangent- overall I think it's good that students with mental and physical disabilities are given priority in classes because they do have certain needs that should be catered to.

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