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thoughts

Through writing, I explore concepts of disability studies, living with a chronic illness, and design theory

When Empathy Isn't Enough

As a disabled person, I think about how my community is perceived in society. I wonder if these limited perceptions have minimized our involvement in the design process. This prompted my question to our panelists on how the portrayal of disabled people, throughout history and in the media, have affected how we are perceived. “When I look in pop culture or the media, I don’t see anything that feels like my experience. We just don’t see the nuance of the lived experience of disability,” said Finnegan. In the media, disabled people are most often portrayed in two tropes: people to be inspired by and people to pity. These limiting tropes are usually portrayed by people who are visibly disabled, yet Jackson pointed out that most disabled people have an invisible disability, and these are the people not getting their needs met. I was happy that Jackson brought this up because as someone with an invisible disability, I am often misunderstood and forgotten about. This provides an important opportunity for designers to challenge their own perceptions and expand their definition of disability.

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Shaina Garfield