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Disability: a badge or label?

In this video different people with disabilities share their stories about labelling and classification.

In the above video, Duncan, Steve, Antoni, Jordanna and Vivienne share personal stories about how they have been labeled by others, as well as how they have badged themselves as having a disability.

A link to an audio description of this video is available in the See Also section below.

In the video we can see how our guest speakers have had different and contextual experiences of:

  • being labeled as disabled by others;
  • disclosing their impairment;
  • claiming identity of disability or impairment with pride.
In many ways, owning the disabled identity has been central to disability politics. You can definitely hear how important it is for Jordanna to identify as Deaf — to count herself in to a group with a strong cultural identity. Paradoxically, when someone is labeled by others as having an impairment or disability, it can be more difficult. For example, Duncan describes the challenges around his vision impairment being sensationalised by the news media.
Disability scholar Tom Shakespeare has helpfully described this distinction as the difference between having a badge (which is a positive, self-identification) and being labeled (which is done by others, without personal control).
portraits of the five guest speakers, laughing and smiling

Talking points

  • What particular insights did you gain from the video about what counts as disability?
  • How have each of these speakers tried to challenge or combat the negative effects of labels?
  • How do the themes in this video relate to ideas about living a good life?
  • If you have a disability yourself, or are closely connected to people who do, you can also comment on how the personal perceptions and experiences of the speakers resonate with or differ from your own.
This article is from the free online

Disability and a Good Life: Thinking through Disability

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FutureLearn - Learning For Life

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