Throughout this module, you were introduced to a number of people with disabilities and learned a little about their abilities, interests, and challenges. Like people without disabilities, they may attain higher education, be successfully employed, and take part in social and community activities. You also learned that our perceptions about people with disabilities can be shaped by cultural backgrounds and experiences, media portrayals, and common misperceptions. These perceptions, in turn, influence our treatment and expectations of people with disabilities.
Our perceptions can also influence the language we use when interacting with or referring to people with disabilities. Moreover, language shifts and changes over time so that words that were once considered inoffensive or neutral may later take on meanings or connotations that are no longer considered acceptable or are even regarded as offensive. To address this issue, most disability communities encourage the use of people-first language, a positive, respectful way to refer to individuals with disabilities.
Listen to sculptor Michael Naranjo share his experiences (time: 5:10).
After I looked at the Moses, two years later I got to look at Michaelangelo’s David. As I was on top of the scaffolding and started to feel the David, I started to cry. My dream again had come true.
And so as I looked at him… I looked at his eyes and the beauty of the eyes. His eyelids were just incredible—the tear ducts in the eyes, in the corner of the eyes, that no one was going to see from down on the ground from the floor looking up. They’re there hiding in the corners of the eyes, the pupils of the eyes that look like hearts.
His lips, his lips are soft, they’re so soft that you can feel the heart beating, pumping, pushing this blood through his lips. And his lips look like they’re going to open any second and he’s going to start talking. The veins in his neck are bulging from the adrenaline that he’s feeling of looking at Goliath standing in the distance. And his hands, the tension in the hands on holding the rock.
This hard cold stone was so soft, so warm that you could just feel the bones, you could feel his heart in there maybe pumping and beating. And it was just amazing to feel this flesh of a man 18 feet tall.
The last thing that I remember seeing was a Vietcong through the end of the sights on my rifle. And he was looking for some more of my friends, my fellow soldiers to shoot at, and he suddenly turned his head towards me, and we were 20 yards apart. He looked at me, and I could see his eyes. I just remember seeing his eyes. Our eyes met; our eyes locked. And in two seconds, we knew what was going to happen. I put the sights of my rifle right at him and I shot. And at that moment after shooting, my friend who was right behind me said something. And so I ducked, and a grenade rolled into my hand. I let go of my rifle and I pulled my hand back away from this grenade, and it exploded and I was suspended. And I was blind.
The name of this piece is the “Taos Deer Hunter,” and the man on the bottom is the clown and he plays the part of the hunter. And the man thrown over his shoulders is the deer hunter and he’s a dancer that the clown shoots with his willow bow and straw arrows. And once he shoots him, he puts him over on his shoulders. And the hard part about this piece was getting the balance. And the way I got the balance for that “Taos Dear Hunter” was I had to put something up on my shoulder. And the only way I could get it done was by putting Lori up there. ([To wife] Come here honey. Let me show them how. Lean over.) It gave me an idea that I really didn’t lean forward but I had to arch my back backwards to get that balance just right.
I don’t think that I am disabled. I don’t have a disability. I don’t have time to have a disability because I’m working too much, too hard, and I’m having too much fun doing what I’m doing. And I haven’t got time in my life to think/ feel disability; to think blind.
Revisiting Initial Thoughts
Think back to your initial responses to the following questions. After working through the resources in this module, do you still agree with your Initial Thoughts? If not, what aspects of your answers would you change?
What did you see?
What feelings did you have about the photos?
What thoughts did you have about the individuals in this challenge?
Do perceptions matter?
When you are ready, proceed to the Assessment section.