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The Costly Compassion of the ADA

 Moreover, insofar as understanding of the disability rights movement is, as Robertson (1998: 32) suggests, “informed not only by the experience of disabled people (sic), but by the civil rights movement, movements of African-Americans and other minority groups, the women’s rights movement and by the current movement for gay and lesbian rights,” it is to be expected that a period of success will be followed by one of quiescence on disability rights issues may follow.

In addition to engendering an empowered consciousness, a raised consciousness can also engender pride, rather than shame, on the part of those with impairments, as to who and what they are. That is, they may take pride in those aspects of their respective selves which mark them as “different from the rest of society” but, yet, contribute to making them who they are. One result may be the development of a positive self-identity embracing all aspects of one’s self, impaired and unimpaired alike. In other words, rather than viewing an impairment as a deficit, “people with impairments would view their respective impairments as part of [a] whole, complete self ” (Robertson 1998: 32) in which they take great pride.

Such pride may, as with any pride, merely precede a fall, or, at least, what people would take to be a fall. For example, some people who are deaf refuse cochlear implants. Such implants involve placing a computerized device into the ear. The device carries signals to the brain which interprets them as sounds, thereby, enabling one who is deaf to hear. Many reject the operation because it suggests that “deafness is a pathology, something to be corrected or eliminated