The article Garland-Thomson discusses the issue of disability and representation. Its focus is on representation in a social and cultural context. Thomson posits that representation refers to how the society in general regards matters to do with disability. She further argues that representation encompasses how people understand and conceptualize the whole issue of disability. Garland-Thompson notes that there has been a paradigm shift in the way America views disability. She notes that due to such legislation as the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, there has been increased participation and integration of persons with disability into realms that were previously thought and to be inaccessible to them. In her submission, she cites examples of persons with disability who went on to achieve significant success in their careers by accommodating rather than seeking to overcome their disabilities. She argues that if society accepts and accommodates disability rather than seeking to overcome it through such measures as medical intervention, then there will be enhanced social justice for all. Thomson makes the case that for real change to occur. According to her, people must accept the fact that disability is a regular part of human life, and that at one point or the other, we are all disabled.
Indeed, among the strengths of Garland-Thomson’s submission is the use of very poignant examples to support her central argument. These examples serve a purpose of powerfully indicating to the reader that what she is arguing is actually achievable and that it has actually been done before. She also did well in her examples by juxtaposing scenarios where disability was accommodated and where people sought to overcome or rather depict it as something that should be overcome. The efficient use of relevant examples in the article is a significant strength of the submission as it enables the reader to form a critical mind and thus form a well-founded opinion on the issue being discussed. Another significant strength of the views expressed in the article is that they aptly capture an issue that is prevalent in the society and to an extent controversial. It is impressive that the author brings the discussion on disability and representation to the fore in a way that does not attack either persons with disability or persons who have previously held contrary views to those advanced in the article. However, a significant weakness of the views expressed is that they fail to enumerate how the change in perception of disability has taken place and more specifically, what factors triggered such changes. The submission also fails to present an in-depth analysis of how various legislative tools have been used to address the issue of discrimination. At best, it mentions the results of enacting legislation such as the Americans with Disability Act but fails to state how the Act achieved the results stated. Nevertheless, the strengths of the views expressed far outweigh the weaknesses.
The article is highly essential especially in a twenty first century society which is characterized by excessive individualization and its attendant consequences such as the failure of persons to form proper views on such issues as disability. The article not only enlightens the reader but also simultaneously challenges previously held notions of disability. Indeed, one is bound to reassess his or her views of disability after reading the article. Without doubt, this is an article which perhaps one could say ought to be read by all without exception. It goes without question that now more than ever there is a need for an ideological shift so that persons can view disability in a totally different light. It is an article which will challenge the reader to start viewing disability as something to be accommodated rather than overcome.
Garland-Thomson did argue her position remarkably well. She provides a background and ably builds up her argument to create a complete mosaic which enables the reader to have a complete and clear picture of the position she is advancing. She makes reference to legislation as well as provides examples which serve the purpose of making her argument more persuasive. The examples used also enable the reader to see that these are issues which are actually prevalent in society and that he or she may have overlooked them in the past. However, there are questions implicitly raised that the author did not answer. For instance, the author does not state the role of the state in this whole idea of disability and representation, but seems to suggest that studies may be enough to make the society have a complete mental shift. Indeed, the author should have considered the views of various representatives of both state and federal government. Moreover, she should have prominently featured the views of persons with disability. Despite these criticisms, the argument that the author advances is very relevant in today’s society. This is for the simple reason that disability is part and parcel of human life; it has been there since time immemorial and will continue being there. Provided it affects the population, any submissions, academic or otherwise on how it can be handled better are a contribution to positively reshaping the societal beliefs on matters regarding disability.
Garland-Thomson, R. (2004). Disability and Representation. Conference on Disability Studies and the University (pp. 522-527). Atlanta: Emory University.