The Power of Disability: 10 Lessons for Surviving, Thriving, and Changing the World

The Power of Disability: 10 Lessons for Surviving, Thriving, and Changing the World

by Al Etmanski
The Power of Disability: 10 Lessons for Surviving, Thriving, and Changing the World

The Power of Disability: 10 Lessons for Surviving, Thriving, and Changing the World

by Al Etmanski


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"This book reminds us of what we have in common: the power to create a good life for ourselves and for others, no matter what the world has in store for us." —Michael J. Fox

This book reveals that people with disabilities are the invisible force that has shaped history. They have been instrumental in the growth of freedom and birth of democracy. They have produced heavenly music and exquisite works of art. They have unveiled the scientific secrets of the universe. They are among our most popular comedians, poets, and storytellers. And at 1.2 billion, they are also the largest minority group in the world.

Al Etmanski offers ten lessons we can all learn from people with disabilities, illustrated with short, funny, inspiring, and thought-provoking stories of one hundred individuals from twenty countries. Some are familiar, like Michael J. Fox, Greta Thunberg, Stephen Hawking, Helen Keller, Stevie Wonder, and Temple Grandin. Others deserve to be, like Evelyn Glennie, a virtuoso percussionist who is deaf—her mission is to teach the world to listen to improve communication and social cohesion. Or Aaron Philip, who has revolutionized the runway as the first disabled, trans woman of color to become a professional model. The time has come to recognize people with disabilities for who they really are: authoritative sources on creativity, love, sexuality, resistance, dealing with adversity, and living a good life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781523087563
Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers
Publication date: 02/04/2020
Pages: 216
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Al Etmanski is a community organizer, social entrepreneur, and author. He became a parent activist in the disability movement thanks to his daughter Liz, an artist, actress, and spoken-word poet who thinks her Down syndrome is "rad." He is a member of the prestigious Ashoka global fellowship of social entrepreneurs and co-founded Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network, which helps parents provide a secure future for their sons and daughters with disabilities. He has received the Order of Canada and Order of British Columbia for his activism.

Table of Contents

Preface xi

Introduction: The Disability Advantage 1

A Word about Words 11

Lesson 1 If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It 15

What Gord Walker Taught Me 15

Body Politics: Catherine Frazee 17

Brilliant Imperfection Eli Clare 19

The Gift Judith Snow 20

A Brief History of Imperfection Dr. Stephen Hawking 22

If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It The Schappell Twins 23

Hidden Wholeness Parker Palmer 24

Humanity Passport Naoki Higashida David Mitchell 26

A Culture with No Boundaries Carey Shelly Zoe Elverum 28

Lesson 2 Funny Things Happen on the Way to the Future 31

What David Roche Taught Me 31

Funny Things Happen on the Way to the Future Michael J. Fox 33

Laughing Matters Maysoon Zayid 35

If at Birth You Don't Succeed Zach Anner 36

Changing the World One Laugh at a Time Nidhi Goyal 37

Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot John Callahan 38

Get Down Moves Lauren Potter 40

Smart Ass Empire Mike Ervin 41

Funny, You Don't Look Crazy Victoria Maxwell 42

Lesson 3 Label Jars, Not People 45

What Cradle Heaven Taught Me 45

The Mismeasure of Man Stephen Jay Gould 47

The Power of Not Fitting In Temple Grandin 49

Dethroning Stereotypes Peter Dinklage 50

Identity Complications Cristina Hartmann 51

The R-Word Timothy Shriver 52

Breaking the Silence Allie Cashel 53

Label Jars, Not People Edith Sheffer 55

Branding Disability Albert Lasker 56

Lesson 4 There Ain't No Cure for Love 59

What Phil and Wendy Allen Taught Me 59

Hot, Wet, and Shaking Kaleigh Trace 61

There Ain't No Cure for Love Leonard Cohen 62

Love at Second Sight Marlena Blavin 63

Sex and the Gimpy Girl Nancy Mairs 65

Crossing Half of China to Sleep with You Yu Xiuhua 66

Fifty Shades of Scarlet Mik Scarlet 67

Things Disabled People Know about Parenting Ing Wong-Ward 68

In Sickness and in Health Ben Mattlin 70

Lesson 5 All Means All 73

What Ted and Josh Kuntz Taught Me 73

The Elephant in the Room Caroline Casey 75

Krip-Hop Nation Luca Patuelli 77

Runway to the World Aaron Philip 79

Unleash Different Rich Donovan 80

Navigating Privilege and Power Deborah Dagit 81

Sharing Lives: The Village of Geel and Alex Fox 83

An Authentic Doctor David Renaud 84

All Means All Marsha Forest Jack Pearpoint 85

Lesson 6 Adversity Is an Opportunity 87

What Sam Sullivan Taught Me 87

Mothering On Christa Couture 90

Breathing Love into Zika The Guerreira Mothers of Brazil 91

Radical Optimist Helen Keller 92

Adversity Is an Opportunity Aimee Mullins 93

Better and Darker Angels Abraham Lincoln 94

Image Maker Franklin Delano Roosevelt 95

Breaking Ground Pearl S. Buck 97

The Dark Side of the Game Tim Green 98

Lesson 7 Art Blooms at the Edges 101

What Geoff McMurchy Taught Me 101

Art Blooms at the Edges Yayoi Kusama 103

The Heart of the Matter Itzhak Perlman 105

Black Beauty Anna Sewell 106

The Key of Life Stevie Wonder 107

A Chair in the Sky Charles Mingus Joni Mitchell 108

Outsider Lucy Maud Montgomery 109

Equals at Arthur's Round Table Niall McNeil Marcus Youssef 110

Changing the World, One Painting at a Time Yaniv Janson 112

Lesson 8 Awaken to All Your Senses 115

What Peggie Taught Me 115

Touching the Rock John Hull 118

Awakening to Our Senses Evelyn Glennie 119

The Swoon of the Sensuous DJ Savarese 120

The Sounds of Science Wanda Díaz-Merced 121

Labyrinth Jorge Luis Borges 122

Transformer Man Neil Young 123

In My Language Mel Baggs 124

A Little Learning Is a Dangerous Thing Alexander Pope 126

By and for Equals Nadia Duguay Exeko 126

Lesson 9 Nothing about Us without Us 129

What Barb Goode Taught Me 129

Climate Striking Greta Thunberg 131

Independent Living Ed Roberts 133

Accidental Activist Alice Wong 134

Manifesto for Citizenship Carmen Papalia 136

Disability Rocks Heavy Load 137

The Equality Effect Fiona Sampson 138

Breaking Bad Barriers RJ Mitte 140

Everything Is about Us Carla Qualtrough 141

Lesson 10 There Is No Independence without Interdependence 143

What Powell River Taught Me 143

Becoming Human Jean Vanier 145

Love's Labor Eva Kittay 147

Purple, Green, and Yellow Robert Munsch 148

Moonbeams Ian Brown 149

The Four Walls of Her Freedom Donna Thomson 150

The Untouchables Philippe Pozzo di Borgo Abdel Sellou 152

Poem for Michael Kirsteen Main 153

There Is No Independence without Interdependence Bonnie Sherr Klein 154

Conclusion: Life Comes from Life 157

Notes 159

Thanks 189

Index 191

About the Author 199

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