Demystifying Disability: What To Know, What To Say, and How To Be an Ally

Ten Speed. Sept. 2021. 176p. ISBN 9781984858979. pap. $16. SOC SCI
This volume from disability rights activist Ladau (host of the podcast The Accessible Stall; editor in chief of Rooted in Rights blog) isn’t a textbook on disability, but rather a guide to having real conversations about it. The author, who was born with Larsen syndrome and uses a wheelchair, emphasizes that disability is deeply personal and there is no singular experience. Alongside Ladau’s experience of physical, hearing, and mental disability, the book includes stories from queer and/or BIPOC disabled people, who offer their own insight on having multiple marginalized identities or using mobility aids. Ladau seamlessly shifts between the personal and the sociological in brief, engaging chapters on disability etiquette and history up to the present day, including the passage of the ADA, sub-movements within disability communities, and the emotional tolls of ableism and inaccessibility, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ladau’s writing particularly shines when she discusses the fear and confusion that the words “disability” and “disabled” can evoke. What sets this book apart is Ladau’s thoughtful argument that allyship is a journey, not a destination.
VERDICT Ladau has written an essential resource that readers can refer to at any time, browsing chapters individually or reading straight through. A must for libraries and fans of Disability Visibility, by Alice Wong.
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