“Invisibility” refers to the absence of disability from the conversations and activities that establish the way a society functions, encompassing social relationships, intellectual and artistic work, and politics. While recent high-profile celebrity cases like Christopher Reeve and Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius have brought injury and impairment into popular awareness, the problem of people with disabilities as an oppressed social group remains largely undiscussed. Douglas Baynton writes that “disability is everywhere in history, once you begin looking for it, but conspicuously absent in the histories we write” (2001, 52). A similar point has been made about disabled figures in literature, art, and film: they abound, yet until recently they have been ignored by scholars or interpreted for metaphoric import within an otherwise ableist reading. Media stories of “overcoming” disability can obscure the reality of most disabled people’s lives, reinforcing desires for rehabilitation or cure and deflecting attention from matters of education, employment, and access to services. That “diversity” dialogues on many American college campuses may include race, class, gender, and sexual orientation but not disability suggests the ongoing invisibility of the needs and concerns of people with disabilities. Similarly, most Americans are likely unaware of the terms of the Americans with...

This essay may be found on page 113 of the printed volume.

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