Five powerful disability advantages
From Al's latest book The Power of Disability, 10 Lessons for Surviving, Thriving, and Changing the World
“I’ve written this book because I want to change the popular story about disability by correcting what history and media have overlooked and by giving credit where credit is due.” ~ Al
This book focuses on five powerful disability advantages.
1. The Power of Majority
One in seven individuals worldwide has a disability. At 1.2 billion, that makes them the largest minority group on the planet. That’s the population of China and almost four times the population of North America. Another three in seven are their families, friends, and allies. In total, four in seven people in the world have a connection to disability. That’s a potent majority. Those kinds of numbers translate into an audience, a base, and a market that’s too large to ignore and just waiting to be mobilized, especially since it represents $8 trillion in annual disposable income. By comparison, the much-sought-after teen market is relatively small at $220 billion.
2. The Power of Inclusivity
The disability world intersects with every gender, race, ethnicity, color, creed, class, sexual orientation, income level, health condition, living arrangement, and age group. This predisposes people in the disability world to understand difference as a natural fact of life to be welcomed and celebrated, not curtailed or cured. This sensitivity enlarges and enlightens. It encourages us to focus on a person’s contributions rather than his or her condition, limitation, or identity.
3. The Power of Ingenuity
There is no group in history with more consistent experience at making their mark, despite the deck being stacked against them, than people with disabilities. People with disabilities wake up every day to a world not designed for them. They are constantly inventing themselves out of adverse circumstances. They are the original hackers. Many of the innovations we take for granted were solutions to challenges they faced that went on to benefit the wider population. The bicycle, the typewriter, and curb cuts are three examples. There is nothing like a dash of disability to increase your ingenuity and resilience, and to help you deal with the inevitable hiccups and setbacks that accompany everyone’s life.
4. The Power of Authenticity
Our culture is inexhaustible in its capacity to ignore our reliance on others. It promotes the myth of individualism, independence, invincibility. Problems are sanitized, simplified, and easily resolved if we just have the right attitude or if we find the right savior. More and more of us are rejecting that view of the world. We want hope that is qualified by authenticity, and we are looking for stories that we can relate to. The fact is that more and more people are struggling to get by or are worried about the future, and we expect to see that reality reflected in our leadership, media, stories, and social movements. The disability movement offers a refreshing alternative to the lone hero, usually a man, overcoming overwhelming odds. It reminds us that justice emerges from the bottom up, not the top down, and always in the company of so-called ordinary people who disrupt the status quo in big and small ways.
5. The Power of Unity
The ultimate power of disability is as a unifying force. We live in tumultuous times, with the world increasingly fractured and polarized. People want to know they are not alone, that they can be part of something bigger than themselves. The disability community has the power to bridge our divides and bring us together. After all, disability is the world’s most common condition. It encompasses diversity, exudes ingenuity and authenticity, and is in the majority! That’s an unrivalled combination and force for change.