Disability and Its Integration into Society
The justification of disabilities through biomedical terms proves insufficient in its application to impairments. This means the inhabiting of a disability is less dependent upon the physical attributions and more reliant upon the social arrangements and expectations of one's surrounding society.
Society says disability is a word to mean "a person who is unable to fully participate in typical life activities," due to a mental or physical impairment. While this proves sufficient in simplifying the approach to such classifications, there is another component to the word—society's inability to view the disabled as capable people instead of just categorizing them as "able" or "unable."
Many of the social biases and difficulties of those with disabilities are rooted in the ways they are treated by society during one's day-to-day life. This refers to the occasional arrogance of the able-bodied and their inability to accommodate to the needs of the disabled. This is not to say al able-bodied members are this way, but more could always be done. Ironically, the progression of technology and the alteration of socially constructed standards make for an increasingly difficult life in a predominately non-disabled world. This is not to undermine the difficulties of biomedical, physical and mental traits of an individual in their disability. Rather, it is to address the issue of society as an amplifier of these problems. Thus the impotence of society is not solely due to their closed-minded perception of the disabled; instead, it is due to their unwillingness to accommodate for the availability, forms and distribution of basic resources and lifestyles for those with disabilities.
The root of inequality and unfair advantages or opportunities for those with disabilities is a result of the actions of the ignorant and the lack of resources from the able-bodied.
One aspect of society and its failure in the distribution of basic resources refers to the issue of money. Much of society may view those with disabilities as a burden to others due to the public funding that goes to supporting them. This matter, however, delves much deeper than this. It isn't merely society's perception of disabilities that contributes to the social construction of them, it is also their economic and government installments of social norms.
An example of this socioeconomic disparity in the United States would be the physical shape, size and texture of banknotes. In a nation prevailing with able-bodied citizens, the fact that a ten-dollar bill feels the same as a fifty-dollar bill does not arise as a pressing issue. For the blind however, one can imagine why such a seemingly harmless trait alternatively reveals itself as daunting.
Others may describe a disability as something that is overcome by the inhabitant and something one is willing to succeed with, in spite of their condition. But this implicitly states that a disability is an obstacle and one that is viewed negatively from the individual themselves. In opposition, the lack of accommodations and availability of physical aids is not from the individual themselves but from society.
While the Americans with Disabilities Acts have worked to implement reforms and laws regarding ramp specifications and necessities, they failed to ensure the strict implementation of other street-safety measures in the public sphere. This is a direct result of the arrogance of able-bodied individuals and their refusal to accept the need and desire of modifications for those who need them. No extent of an individual's purchases or one's personal technology will replace the potential benefits of the implementation of societal and government changes. An example of this is found when a blind person can no longer rely on their walking stick to tell them if it is safe or not to cross the street yet. However, through the updating of crosswalk buttons to provide verbal notice to "walk now," that person would then be made aware of when it is safe to cross. While this technology is being added to more road intersections than before, it still proves the social construction of disabilities from society as opposed to those with the disabilities being the root cause of their misfortune and difficulties in life.
Another example of why disabilities are socially constructed and symptoms of those with such traits are further disadvantaged by society is built from the societal norm and expectancies of independence. Many able-bodied individuals view an individual as not fully able and functional if he or she is unable to do one or more activities without significant amounts of support from others. While this very well proves an argument for the worsening conditions of the disabled as a result of society, this idea fails to acknowledge the fact that this problem is a direct result of social constructions from society itself. In other words, yes, society does determine one's status of a disability in part by their need for assistance outside of themselves, but this is a problem created from society in the first place. For example, if alternative cars were designed for leg amputees which allowed them to drive, then the need for assistance in transportation would decrease significantly. This is a fault made in society and their lack of developments in resources for the disabled—thus further resulting in the social construction of disabilities.
The vast majority of the worsening of disabilities are created by the interaction of biological and social factors. This means that both the physical or mental characteristics and the surrounding atmosphere of an individual may constitute the attribution of a disability. The social construction of stigmas and negative stereotypes in reference to the handicapped further worsens the status of such beings. Regardless of the disability at hand, the views and closed-minded mentalities that society casts upon these people often proves worse than the physical obstacles. An example of this stems from the very word created by society used to label these people: "disabled." This falsely implies that those with disabilities are "unable" and incapable of accomplishing certain tasks. Preceding this issue however, comes the initiating factor of all this—the socially-constructed word itself. Had a different term been created, one that is irrelevant to competence or incompetence—such as “differently abled” or “diverse learners”—the matter would deal less with one's inability and more with their ability to become contributing members of society regardless of the "disability" at hand.
While advanced thinking and one’s willingness to remain open-minded step above the predestined definitions of "disability" from the closed-minded perspectives of society, their inability to adapt to the needs of the disabled is a fault of their own and thus a social construction of their own arrogance. It is only through society's newly developed activism and desire to accommodate for the presence, status and aid of primal necessities and lifestyles for the disabled in which the equality and justice of them can be served.