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Thursday, September 11, 2008

On Being Invisible

The lead article of Volume 4, Issue 3 of RDS talks about "virtually invisible women" - women with disabilities who are largely absent from mainstream psychological research. This is shocking. You would think that the combination of Woman + Disability + Psychological Issue would be fertile ground for researchers, but apparently not. People with disabilities are noticeably absent from research in just about any field of study you can think of. Its as if disability has no more significance then having brown hair. Yet when it comes to employing someone with a disability, or educating them, or talking to them, disability suddenly becomes their most important characteristic.

Unfortunately, being invisible is not just a metaphor. Just this week in my Introduction to Disability and Diversity Class we were discussing the protests surrounding implementation section 504 of the Rehab Act in the 1970's, specifically the takeover of the Federal Building in San Francisco. We asked, "Why do people with disabilities have to make such a big fuss when they want something?" Because they are invisible. If you don't make a "big fuss", no one will see you.

Post a comment and let us know what you think about the under-representation of people with disabilities in "mainstream" research. Should we be seen as distinct? How can we convince researchers to see us as a group worth considering?