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A Matter of Dignity

A Matter of Dignity

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Add This - A Matter of Dignity

Written by Andrew PotokAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Andrew Potok

  • Format: Trade Paperback, 320 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam
  • On Sale: February 4, 2003
  • Price: $19.00
  • ISBN: 978-0-553-38124-5 (0-553-38124-5)
Also available as an eBook.
about this book

Acclaimed author Andrew Potok examines an ongoing revolution in how we think about disabilities and the millions of Americans who have physical and mental disabilities.

Rather than the old stereotype of disability as damage, as a problem that needs to be fixed with paternalistic "help", the disabled themselves are seeking as a matter of right the same entitlements and opportunities as the able-bodied. The author (himself blind) has created a series of extraordinary, vibrant portraits in action of the men and women who making this revolution happen.

Students will meet people who train guide dogs, make computers speak, create astounding prostheses—give new opportunity to the mentally ill. Also recognized are the heroes who have legislated revolutionary change about disability itself: academics and lawyers who used the template of the civil rights movement to create new laws culminating in the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Includes a chapter on scholars Adrienne Asch, professor of bioethics, Rosemarie Garland Thomson, professor of English, plus a look at the new academic Society for Disability Studies.

"Insight and nuance underlie much of this investigation into the situation of disabled Americans today. Potok (Ordinary Daylight), who has the degenerative eye disease retinitis pigmentosa, shapes his informative and wittily written survey around a series of 13 interview/profiles of disability activists of various backgrounds and interests: e.g., lawyer Chai Feldblum, who pioneered AIDS and race-based civil rights legislation and now does disability law; Connie Tomaino, who works for Oliver Sacks and studies 'neurological aspects of music'; Dave Loney, who makes prostheses. While careful not to present a completely cheery portrait of the world of the disabled, offering the history of eugenics in U.S. thought and law, and accounts of guide dogs who can 'smell, shed, get ill, [or] revert to deeply ingrained beastly behavior,' Potok discusses such positive developments as the new academic Society for Disability Studies, the ever evolving politics of the Americans with Disability Act, and the invention of the 'talking computer' program JAWS (Job Accessibility With Speech). Covering medical, legal and psychological issues in depth and with intellectual vigor, the most provocative of Potok's work is his examination 'about our feelings regarding wholeness, beauty, and ugliness [and] about the state called normalcy, 'making the book less about changing the world of the disabled than about in re-imagining the world in which we all live."
Publishers Weekly

Preface; Dogs: Pete Lang, Guide Dog Trainer; Rights: Mary Lou Breslin and Chai Feldblum, teachers, activists and social policy thinkers; Bodies: Dave Loney, prosthetist, John Fago, photographer, teacher, prosthetist; Jaws: Ted Henter, computer entrepreneur; Scholars: Adrienne Asch, professor of bioethics; Rosemarie Garland Thomson, professor of English; Internal Music: Connie Tomaino, music therapist; Neighbors; David Werner, biologist and health educator; Brothers and Sons: Jay Neugeboren, writer; Mona Wasow and Ann Larkin, teachers, Sam Semberis, agency head; Epilogue