Glossary: Disability + Visibility

Ableism (n.): explicit and implicit forms of discrimination against, and the subjugation of, people with disabilities. Preference for and privileging of the nondisabled in the domains of law, social policy, and cultural values. The adjectival form, ableist, describes words, actions, policies, values, etc. that devalue and discriminate against people with disabilities.

Crip (n.): an identity term, similar to queer in that it is a reclaimed slur. As a personal signifier, crip articulates pride and celebration of difference from the majority. When used as a verb, to crip means to reveal or include images and narratives centered on disability in contexts where it has been overlooked or excluded.

Deaf/deaf (adj.): deaf describes individuals with hearing impairments. The capitalized Deaf designates a group affiliation of people who share cultural history, who self-identify as a linguistic minority, and who communicate through sign language (such as American Sign Language, International Sign, etc.).

Invisible disability (n.): a form of impairment not visible to others, such as a cognitive, intellectual, or sensory one. Because of invisible disabilities, no one should ever be assumed to be able-bodied. People with invisible or not highly visible disabilities do not evade ableist scrutiny or discrimination; however, compared to people with visible disabilities, they may “pass” as and gain access to some of the privileges of the nondisabled.

Neurodiverse (adj.): a concept that characterizes people with cognitive, mental, or learning differences that highlights and often celebrates variation in human beings, rather than marginalizing such differences as defects. Its antonym, neurotypical, designates people who conform to a privileged state of what society considers normal.

Stare (v.): the act of looking at individuals with visible impairments—often motivated by curiosity, pity, or disgust—that can have the effect of objectifying and/or exploiting them.

Visibility (n.): the state of being able to be seen. In discussions of disability, can refer to whether a subject’s impairments are visual to or perceptible by others; visibility can also refer to the cultural privileging of individuals, systems, and representations that discriminate against and exclude people with visual impairments.

 

Related Reading List
Keywords for Disability Studies, edited by Rachel Adams, Benjamin Reiss, and David Serlin
Staring: How We Look by Rosemarie Garland-Thomson
The Creatures that Time Forgot: Photography and Disability Imagery by David Hevey
Feminist, Queer, Crip by Alison Kafer
Studying Disability Arts and Culture: An Introduction by Petra Kuppers
Crip Theory: Cultural Signs of Queerness and Disability by Robert McRuer
The Disabled Body in Contemporary Art by Ann Millett-Gallan
Disability and Art History, Edited by Ann Millett-Gallant and Elizabeth Howie