Eye-opening book on disability activism

2010-07-07 00:00

BOOK REVIEW

Able-Bodied: scenes from a curious life

Leslie Swartz

Zebra Press

LESLIE Swartz (Professor of Psychology at Stellenbosch University) writes very engagingly on disability. As both a member of a family with a number of different disabilities and as a disabilities researcher and member of the Southern African Federation of the Disabled, he is able to weave together personal stories and observations with a thorough understanding of the political and practical aspects of disability activism.

He writes with a personal honesty and frankness which is disarming, as well as with a carefully reasoned humanity which he brings to the often fractious debates around oppression, labelling and self-representation among the disabled. He manages to vitalise what could have been dryly analytic with example and anecdote drawn from his long association with disabled people and disability studies.

This is an eye-opening book which allows the lay reader to understand better the complexities of living with disability. It also makes a very strong plea for a change in societal perception of the disabled, many of whom claim to be more disadvantaged by attitudes towards them than by their disability, and for practical steps to be taken by government, architects and engineers to ensure that special needs are taken into consideration within the infrastructure of municipalities. An informative and enjoyable read.

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