On Reading “Academic Ableism”

The introduction to “Academic Ableism” by Jay Dolmage opens with an example of a steep set of stairs. The stairs are seen as a part of the university’s identity, and they serve as a barrier to those who might try to enter. Dolmage then discusses the history of asylums in North America, focusing on how universities have a similar way of isolating people from society at large. While asylums kept the “lowest” of individuals, universities chose only the “best” to enter its gates.

I found the history he gave on the history of eugenics and how it changed academia both fascinating and disturbing. While I was aware there was a large movement in the early 1900s, I did not know that it has weaseled its way into the university curriculum to such a degree.

Following the section on Eugenics, Dolmage discusses the lack of funding for students and faculty with disabilities as well as the lack of representation of faculty with disabilities.

Some of the discussion and space and disability made me reflect on the construction going on in our own library to make the buildings more accessible. The main library itself is also framed by those high steps.

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