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Reads for Disability Pride Month 2024

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Reads for Disability Pride Month 2024

disability pride 2024

“Disability Pride Month” celebrates the important history of the disability civil rights movement and recognizes contributions that people with disabilities make in workplaces and communities. Observed in July to commemorate the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) into law in July, 1990, it’s a time to celebrate people with disabilities which is roughly 15% of the world’s population and 1 in 4 Americans.

Here are some nonfiction books available with your Livingston Library card, including memoirs by authors with disabilities, that offer authentic reads on the disability or differently abled experience.

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Access Your Drive and Enjoy the Ride : A Guide to Achieving Your Dreams From a Person With a Disability by Lolo Spencer

Spencer provides a candid and real inside look into the life of being a person with a disability. Lolo shares how she navigates daily life with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). You are more than your limits. Choosing to see herself as more than a person with a disability and wheelchair user, Lolo chooses to live a bold and courageous life now because representation matters. She created this intersectional guide to provide tools for people with disabilities to thrive in personal growth, independence, and community building.

Beautiful People : My Thirteen Truths About Disability by Melissa Blake

Blake, a disability-rights advocate, was born with Freeman-Sheldon syndrome, a rare, genetic bone and muscular disorder. She has had a lifetime of experience dealing with nondisabled people’s bad behavior, made overwhelming when she went viral on social media, and she is fighting for disability representation that incorporates pride in disabilities. What this means is affirmation for disabled people to fight internalized ableism and to take up space, and it should not be confused with the insistence by many nondisabled people on making the disabled inspirational. Through a mix of personal memoir, advice, and data, Blake helps nondisabled readers understand what ableism is and how it manifests in day-to-day life.

Being Heumann : An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist by Judith E. Heumann

One of the most influential disability rights activists in US history tells her personal story of fighting for the right to receive an education, have a job, and just be human.  Paralyzed from polio at eighteen months, Judy’s struggle for equality began early in life. From fighting to attend grade school after being described as a “fire hazard” to later winning a lawsuit against the New York City school system for denying her a teacher’s license because of her paralysis, Judy’s actions set a precedent that fundamentally improved rights for disabled people. As a young woman, Judy rolled her wheelchair through the doors of the US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare in San Francisco as a leader of the Section 504 Sit-In, the longest takeover of a governmental building in US history. Working with a community of over 150 disabled activists and allies, Judy successfully pressured the Carter administration to implement protections for disabled peoples’ rights, sparking a national movement and leading to the creation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

Being Seen : One Deafblind Woman’s Fight To End Ableism by Elsa Sjunneson

A deafblind writer and professor explores how the misrepresentation of disability in books, movies, and TV harms both the disabled community and everyone else.

Born Extraordinary : Empowering Children With Differences And Disabilities by Meg Zucker

Often the subjects of unwanted attention-ranging from pitying stares to bullying-Zucker and her sons have learned to ignore what others think and live fearlessly. Also incorporating the stories of other families with visible and invisible differences of all kinds, this book gives parents the tools to meet their children’s emotional needs while supporting the whole family unit. Parents learn how best to empower their children to confront others’ assumptions, grow in confidence, and encourage dialogue-rather than silence, fear, and shame-around differences.

But You Look So Normal : Lost and Found in a Hearing World by Claudia Marseille

When four-year-old Claudia Marseille was diagnosed with severe hearing loss and received her first hearing aid, her lifelong journey to fit in began. Here, she reveals how she overcame loneliness and isolation and carved out a fulfilling life for herself somewhere between the mainstream culture and the Deaf world.

country of the blind

The Country of the Blind: A Memoir at the End of Sight by Andrew Leland

A witty, winning, and revelatory personal narrative of the author’s transition from sightedness to blindness and his quest to learn about blindness as a rich culture all its own.  Full of apprehension but also dogged curiosity, Leland embarks on a sweeping exploration of the state of being that awaits him: not only the physical experience of blindness but also its language, politics, and customs. He negotiates his changing relationships with his wife and son, and with his own sense of self, as he moves from his mainstream, “typical” life to one with a disability. 

Crip Up the Kitchen : Tools, Tips and Recipes for the Disabled Cook by Jules Sherred

When Sherred discovered the Instant Pot multicooker, he was thrilled. And incensed. How had no one told him what a game changer this could be, for any home cook but in particular for those with disabilities and chronic illness? And so the experimenting–and the evangelizing–began. The kitchen is the most ableist room in the house. With 50 recipes that make use of three key tools–the electric pressure cooker, air fryer, and bread machine–Jules has set out to make the kitchen accessible and enjoyable. The book includes pantry prep, meal planning, shopping guides, kitchen organization plans, and tips for cooking safely when disabled, all taking into account varying physical abilities and energy levels. 

Demystifying Disability : What to Know, What to Say, and How to Be an Ally by Emily Ladau

A guide for how to be a thoughtful, informed ally to disabled people, with actionable steps for what to say and do (and what not to do) and how you can help make the world a more accessible place.

Developing Talents : Careers for Individuals with Asperger Syndrome and High-Functioning Autism by Temple Grandin

Who knows better about developing the talents of those with autism than Temple Grandin? This updated and expanded third edition of Developing Talents considers the continuing dismal employment statistics for individuals with autism. The authors take an in-depth look at entrepreneurship and many other options.

Disability Intimacy : Essays on Love, Care, and Desire

The much-anticipated follow up to the groundbreaking anthology Disability Visibility: another revolutionary collection of first-person writing on the joys and challenges of the modern disability experience, and intimacy in all its myriad forms. These twenty-five stunning original pieces-plus other modern classics on the subject, all carefully curated by acclaimed activist Alice Wong-include essays, photo essays, poetry, drama, and erotica: a full spectrum of the dreams, fantasies, and deeply personal realities of a wide range of beautiful bodies and minds.

disability pride

Disability Pride : Dispatches from a Post-ADA World by Ben Mattlin

An eye-opening portrait of the diverse disability community as it is today and how attitudes, activism, and representation have evolved since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories from the Twenty-First Century

One in five people in the United States lives with a disability. Some disabilities are visible, others less apparent—but all are underrepresented in media and popular culture. From Harriet McBryde Johnson’s account of her debate with Peter Singer over her own personhood to original pieces by authors like Keah Brown and Haben Girma; from blog posts, manifestos, and eulogies to Congressional testimonies, and beyond: this anthology gives a glimpse into the rich complexity of the disabled experience, highlighting the passions, talents, and everyday lives of this community.

Easy Beauty : A Memoir by Chloé Cooper Jones

Jones was born with a rare congenital condition called sacral agenesis, which affects both the stature and gait, and so her pain is physical. But there is also the pain of being judged and pitied for her appearance, of being dismissed as “less than.” the ways she has been seen–or not seen–has informed her lens on the world for her entire life… But after unexpectedly becoming a mother (in violation of unspoken social taboos about the disabled body), she feels something in her shift, and Jones sets off on a journey across the globe, reclaiming the spaces she’d been denied and had denied herself.

Life on Delay : Making Peace With a Stutter by John Hendrickson

Inspiring and empowering, this thoughtful, well-reported memoir covers the author’s life, including his 2019 experience interviewing and writing about Joe Biden, the world’s most famous stutterer. Hendrickson also weaves in highlights from dozens of others with stutters and sprinkles in such interesting tidbits as “people don’t stutter when they sing.” Like so many people who stutter, he was bullied, including by his own brother, because of his speech impediment.  This memoir reaches beyond Hendrickson’s direct experience to advocate for “informative” rather than “apologetic” self-disclosure about an impediment and chronicle new developments in speech therapy.

I Live a Life Like Yours : A Memoir by Jan Grue

A sensitive examination of the meaning of disability. When he was 3 years old, award-winning Norwegian writer Grue was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy, a degenerative disease that compromised his ability to walk and, doctors predicted, would worsen over time. In a frank and often moving memoir, the author reflects on disability, identity, and difference, drawing on philosophy, sociology, literature, and art: Erving Goffman on the concept of stigma, for example; Joan Didion on grief and Michel Foucault on the clinical gaze.

 Losing Music : A Memoir by John Cotter

A devastating account of the author’s experience with the debilitating condition known as Ménière’s Disease that sheds urgent, bracingly honest light on both the taboos surrounding disability and the limits of medical science.

no spring chicken

No Spring Chicken : Stories and Advice From a Wild Handicapper on Aging and Disability by Francine Falk-Allen

A memoir of the author’s adventures living with a disability. Intended as a follow-up to her earlier memoir, Not a Poster Child: Living Well With a Disability—A Memoir (2018), which detailed her contending with the effects of polio, this is an enthusiastic if rambling collection of stories from her life as a world traveler and polio survivor. Falk-Allen’s approach to enjoying travel as a “wild handicapper”—in her case, as someone who walks with an assistive device and has limited stamina—focuses on planning and understanding what to expect upon arrival at one’s destination, particularly researching accessibility options, packing light, and sticking to a budget.

The Pretty One On Life, Pop Culture, Disability, and Other Reasons to Fall in Love With Me by Keah Brown

Brown was born with cerebral palsy; her greatest desire used to be normalcy and refuge from the steady stream of self-hate society strengthened inside her. But after years of introspection and reaching out to others in her community, she has reclaimed herself and changed her perspective. Brown gives a contemporary and relatable voice to the disabled, so often portrayed as mute, weak, or isolated. With clear, fresh, and light-hearted prose, these essays explore everything from her relationship with her able-bodied identical twin (called ‘the pretty one’ by friends) to navigating romance; her deep affinity for all things pop culture and her disappointment with the media’s distorted view of disability; and her declaration of self-love with the viral hashtag #DisabledAndCute

Sipping Dom Pérignon Through a Straw : Reimagining Success as a Disabled Achiever by Eddie Ndopu

Global humanitarian Eddie Ndopu’s rousing memoir about being both profoundly disabled and profoundly successful without trading one for the other.  Born with spinal muscular atrophy, a rare degenerative motor neuron disease affecting his physical mobility, Eddie was told that he wouldn’t live beyond age five. But using his razor-sharp mind and grit, Eddie became the first-ever disabled African awarded a full scholarship to the prestigious Oxford University for a master’s degree in public policy, a remarkable feat worthy of a toast. But beyond the challenges that students face-making it to class on time, managing steamy crushes, and being student body president-Eddie faced obstacles as a disabled individual that often go unnoticed and unaddressed, namely a revolving door of care aides. Saddled with the burden of raising money to cover his most basic needs: a care aide, financial aid, and disability accommodations, Eddie writes about his fight for financial aid and his continued advocacy for the rights of people with disabilities.

Soundtrack of Silence : Love, Loss, and a Playlist for Life by Matt Hay

As a child, Matt Hay didn’t know his hearing wasn’t the way everyone else processed sound-and like a lot of kids who do workarounds to fit in, even the school nurse didn’t catch his condition at the annual hearing and vision checks. But as a prospective college student who couldn’t pass the entrance requirements for West Point, Hay’s condition, generated by a tumor, was unavoidable: his hearing was going, and fast. Soundtrack of Silence was his determined compensation for his condition: a typical Midwestern kid growing up in the 1980s, whose life events were pegged to pop music, Hay planned to commit his favorite songs to memory, a mental playbook not only of the bands he loved, but a way to tap his most resonant memories. And the track he needed to cement most clearly? The one he and his new girlfriend Nora-the love of his life-listened to in the car on their first date. Made vivid with references to instantly recognizable songs-from The Eagles to Elton John, Bob Marley to Bing Crosby, U2 to Peter Frampton–Soundtrack of Silence asks readers to run the soundtrack of their own lives through their minds. 

Unmasking Autism: Discovering the New Faces of Neurodiversity by Devon Price

A deep dive into the spectrum of Autistic experience and the phenomenon of masked Autism, giving individuals the tools to safely uncover their true selves while broadening society’s narrow understanding of neurodiversity.

We’ve Got This : Essays by Disabled Parents

The first major anthology by parents with disabilities. How does a father who is blind take his child to the park? How is a mother with dwarfism treated when she walks her child down the street? How do Deaf parents know when their baby cries in the night?? More than 15 percent of people worldwide live with a disability, and many of them are also parents. And yet their stories are rarely shared, their experiences almost never reflected in parenting literature. Parents around the world who identify as deaf, disabled, or chronically ill discuss the highs and lows of their parenting journeys and reveal that the greatest obstacles lie in other people’s attitudes.

Archana Chiplunkar,Adult Services & Acquisitions Librarian

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