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

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An approachable guide to being 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, inclusive place. Disabled people are the world’s largest minority, an estimated 15 percent of the global population. But many of us–disabled and non-disabled alike–don’t know h An approachable guide to being 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, inclusive place. Disabled people are the world’s largest minority, an estimated 15 percent of the global population. But many of us–disabled and non-disabled alike–don’t know how to act, what to say, or how to be an ally to the disability community. Demystifying Disability is a friendly handbook on important disability issues you need to know about, including: • How to appreciate disability history and identity • How to recognize and avoid ableism (discrimination toward disabled people) • How to be mindful of good disability etiquette • How to appropriately think, talk, and ask about disability • How to ensure accessibility becomes your standard practice, from everyday communication to planning special events • How to identify and speak up about disability stereotypes in media Authored by celebrated disability rights advocate, speaker, and writer Emily Ladau, this practical, intersectional guide offers all readers a welcoming place to understand disability as part of the human experience.


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An approachable guide to being 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, inclusive place. Disabled people are the world’s largest minority, an estimated 15 percent of the global population. But many of us–disabled and non-disabled alike–don’t know h An approachable guide to being 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, inclusive place. Disabled people are the world’s largest minority, an estimated 15 percent of the global population. But many of us–disabled and non-disabled alike–don’t know how to act, what to say, or how to be an ally to the disability community. Demystifying Disability is a friendly handbook on important disability issues you need to know about, including: • How to appreciate disability history and identity • How to recognize and avoid ableism (discrimination toward disabled people) • How to be mindful of good disability etiquette • How to appropriately think, talk, and ask about disability • How to ensure accessibility becomes your standard practice, from everyday communication to planning special events • How to identify and speak up about disability stereotypes in media Authored by celebrated disability rights advocate, speaker, and writer Emily Ladau, this practical, intersectional guide offers all readers a welcoming place to understand disability as part of the human experience.

30 review for Demystifying Disability: What to Know, What to Say, and How to Be an Ally

  1. 5 out of 5

    Richard Propes

    Emily Ladau is a widely known disability rights advocate, speaker, and writer whose book "Demystifying Disability" is, and I have to say it, an accessible guide to being a thoughtful and informed guide to people with disabilities. Oh, and she apparently has sex. I knew as soon as I saw a quote from good friend Lawrence Carter-Long in the book that I was going to be in good hands with Ladau's intelligent and insightful work here. For those of us living with disabilities, "Demystifying Disabilitie Emily Ladau is a widely known disability rights advocate, speaker, and writer whose book "Demystifying Disability" is, and I have to say it, an accessible guide to being a thoughtful and informed guide to people with disabilities. Oh, and she apparently has sex. I knew as soon as I saw a quote from good friend Lawrence Carter-Long in the book that I was going to be in good hands with Ladau's intelligent and insightful work here. For those of us living with disabilities, "Demystifying Disabilities" isn't particularly demystifying. After all, we live it. Though, as Ladau points out on multiple occasions in the book, we all live it differently and part of the beauty of "Demystifying Disability" is that Ladau leaves room at the table for nearly everyone. Disabled people are the world's largest minority - an estimated 15% of the world's population. Yet, to this day, it seems as disability remains a mystery to many and "Demystifying Disability" gently yet intentionally breaks down the walls of mystery and builds a bridge to understanding and human connection. Ladau's writing style is warm and friendly, however, Ladau doesn't hold back on the importance of these insights she's so eloquently sharing. Ladau explores such issues as exploring disability history and identity, ableism, positive disability etiquette, appropriately communicating about disability, planning for accessibility in daily life, and confronting media stereotypes about disability. There's more, of course, but one of the wise things here is that Ladau actually keeps the conversation surprisingly simple and weaves in her own experiences into the wider conversations being discussed here. Ladau discusses the importance of understanding intersectionality, a term we've all likely heard these days but often don't truly understand. "Demystifying Disability" is a tremendous place to start the disability conversation. There are a myriad of quality discussions that can be formed out of the book and Ladau writes from a peaceful, hospitable place that seems to invite genuine conversations. It is, of course, possible to go much deeper than Ladau chooses to go here. While I myself didn't particularly find "Demystifying Disability" groundbreaking information, I've had a disability my entire life and I can assure you that many will read these pages and go "I never thought of it that way." Indeed, many of us deal with it every single day. Beautifully written and easy to understand, "Demystifying Disability" takes away the mystery and the "inspiration" and the stereotypes and infuses disability with real life, rich humanity, and common ground.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    I've reviewed this book as a part of an event I am hosting in September 2021 called GeekDis. GeekDis is a collaborative event for members of the disability community to talk about disability representation in pop culture. You can learn more about GeekDis here! Originally posted on Just Geeking by. It’s taken me a while to get my thoughts in order for this review, not because there were any problems with Demystifying Disability because it is absolutely brilliant. I find these reviews I've reviewed this book as a part of an event I am hosting in September 2021 called GeekDis. GeekDis is a collaborative event for members of the disability community to talk about disability representation in pop culture. You can learn more about GeekDis here! Originally posted on Just Geeking by. It’s taken me a while to get my thoughts in order for this review, not because there were any problems with Demystifying Disability because it is absolutely brilliant. I find these reviews the hardest because if I don’t take the time to put my thoughts in order all you will get my dear readers is a lot of nonsensical squeeing and an overuse of capital letters. Starting at the beginning, the book covers a vast range of material and does so in a format that makes sense and eases the reader into the subject slowly and painlessly. There’s a huge emphasis on learning and being able to make mistakes as long as you are willing to keep learning. It would be nice if there wasn’t such a huge learning curve, but as a white woman I’m aware of my own learning curve when it comes to racism, so I am in no position to fault nondisabled people for having when it comes to ableism. Plus, I would hope that most people who are actually reading Demystifying Disability are already open to the possibility of changing their own perceptions of disabled people and the disabled community. It can be extremely frustrating as a disabled person to keep dealing with ignorance, but I think Ladau puts it best when she says in the introduction “If the disabled community wants a world that’s accessible to us, then we must make ideas and experiences of disability accessible to the world” and that is exactly what Demystifying Disability does. Ladau starts with basics; “So, what is Disability, anyway?” is the name of the second chapter and it covers everything from the dictionary definition, to what disability means to disabled people and how to talk about disability. This part includes the difference between Person-first language (PFL) and Identity-first language (IFL), and why people in the disabled community choose to use either one. I extremely appreciated Ladua admitting that when she realised her own personal preference, (IFL) she also recognised that she didn’t like being told what to call herself and with that “came an understanding that I couldn’t tell other people what to call themselves”. I was silently applauded Ladau at this stage because this is one of my biggest issues with many people in the disability community; they criticise others for what they do, especially the language they choose to use, but hate being told what they should do themselves. The level of hypocrisy is horrible, and for someone to put it in print in a book about disability is absolutely fantastic. She continued on this topic by included the controversial term “differently able”, including a quote from a fellow disabled advocate who explained why she prefers to use it. I personally have no issue with the term, but many people do, and they can get quite nasty about it. Instead of choosing to listen to the reasons why people may use it they brand it as “ableist”, and I’ve even seen the word “traitor” get thrown around before. Again, I appreciate that Ladau made a point of including it and pointing out that the real issue is not what disabled people choose to call themselves, it’s when nondisabled people make up ways to “dance around disability” as she puts it. Those are far more harmful, and I hope that certain people within the disabled community understand Ladau’s message here because it’s for them just as much as nondisabled readers. I could fill this entire review with points about each chapter (I highlighted so many excellent points of this book) but that would defeat the point of you all reading it for yourself. Every single chapter is filled with information, anecdotal evidence from Ladau’s life, carefully collected source material, or guests she has interviewed. Some of their accounts are chilling even to me, a member of the disabled community. Her section on intersectionality in particular gets right to the point and does not waste time in ensuring that the reader understands how serious the reality of prejudice and stigma towards disabled people of multiple marginalised identities is. One interview remained with me long after reading Demystifying Disability. D’Arcee Neal a doctoral student shared his experiences as a Black young man with cerebral palsy who uses a wheelchair. In an interview, he told Ladau: “When I was younger, the very first question most white people would ask upon meeting me was ‘When were you who?’ They immeadiatly jumped to the conclusion that I had a spinal cord injury as a result of gang or gun violence.” Neal’s experience is just one of many that Ladau shares in Demystifying Disability. Some are familiar to me, and some are so shocking that I had to put the book down briefly. At times this will be a hard book to read, but remember that these are events that people lived through. Disability is something that I, and many others, live with every day. The least you and I owe the people that shared their experiences to help spread awareness about what disabled people have to deal with is read them. One of the chapters that I was most interested to read was the one on disability history, and it was very informative; if you’re American. I still learned a lot from it, however, it only covers the American side of history and as a Brit that means it’s filled with a lot of names and events that mean nothing to me. I think an American reader will get a lot more out of this than I did. While I appreciate that it would have been difficult to include an entire worldwide history in one chapter, it would have been nice if there had even just been a few highlights. As I’m reviewing this for GeekDis I need to mention the brilliant chapter on “Disability in the Media”, which was once again based on American media, but this is to be expected with an American author. Media consumption is a personal preference, after all. Ladau introduces the reader to the discrepancies in disability representation, highlighting the connection between inaccurate representation and discrimination, and how it affects how disabled people perceive themselves. She then focuses on a huge issue; inspiration p0rn. After explaining what it is, Ladau divides it into three types; Overcoming Adversity, Life’s Moments, Great Expectations and Not Your Good Deed. She then challenges the reader to not share inspiration p0rn the next time they come across it, or if they do, share it to call it out. I’m making a point to highlight this segment of the book because in the age of social media, inspiration p0rn is an ever-growing thing and this part of Demystifying Disability is just as important as everything else Ladau writes about. Ladau continues the chapter by doing some calling out of her own as she goes through some of the most common tropes in media. In a section about the “tragedy” of physical disability she calls out the popular film Me Before You, under stigmatizing mental illness she draws attention to how often pop culture encourages us to gawk at people in crisis, and in freaks and other “abnormalities” she highlights how modern medical dramas like Grey’s Anatatomy dramatise stories of people with complex diagnoses for ratings. It’s not all bad news though; there’s a wonderfully uplifting section as Ladau celebrates positive portrayals of disability representation and tells people what to look for (if you’ve been keeping up with GeekDis you’ll know what I’m about to say…); authenticity. As Ladau says, “people with disabilities know ourselves and our experiences best, and we use them to breathe life into stories both real and imagined”. She continues to explain that disabled creators have always been there, but nondisabled gatekeepers have decided what stories should be told, and slowly things are changing as “the mainstream is letting us in”. There is a lot of information in Demystifying Disability, and one of the great things that Ladau has done to help make it easy to digest is a quick recap at the end of each chapter in bullet points. This is a book that you’ll want to keep a copy of at hand to back to and re-read when and as you need it. That is what it’s designed for, and there is a fabulous index at the back of the book that makes it even easier for the reader to find what they are looking for again. No one is expecting nondisabled readers to memorise this book, or get it right every time, the point is that we want you to try. That’s why Ladau has created Demystifying Disability and for my fellow disabled readers this is a perfect book to give to people who might not quite understand what you’re going through. Whether it’s a relative, a friend or a colleague, Demystifying Disability is a great book for them to read and then come to you. It takes the weight of expectation off of us as disabled people to answer every single question, and I think that is probably by design by Ladau too. As I said in my review, this is a book that I have already started recommending to people and I probably will be for quite a while! For more of my reviews please visit my blog!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Yulia

    In short, this is an invaluable resource and one I will return to for guidance. I raced through this book in two days, but honestly it deserves a closer rereading. I was so excited by its release because I'd heard the author speak at a webinar and found such insight and value in what she shared. The book is short and very digestible, but covers a breadth of topics and is packed with useful tips. This is a book I wish I could have read when I was 14, but I'm so glad it's a resource for me and oth In short, this is an invaluable resource and one I will return to for guidance. I raced through this book in two days, but honestly it deserves a closer rereading. I was so excited by its release because I'd heard the author speak at a webinar and found such insight and value in what she shared. The book is short and very digestible, but covers a breadth of topics and is packed with useful tips. This is a book I wish I could have read when I was 14, but I'm so glad it's a resource for me and others now. I've already brought it up in conversations with friends, who also have disabilities, to help consider how to respond to ableism we experience. And it saved me in an emergency this weekend when I was able to speak up for myself with more conviction than I'd otherwise have. I will be using the tools I learn here as I learn how to be a better self-advocate and a better advocate to others, as I navigate how to bring attention to issues faced by people with disabilities while setting the right tone. I'd recommend it to anyone really, as all our lives are touched by disability, whether directly or indirectly, but I especially wish healthcare professionals, including PTs and OTs, read this, to have them understand that people with disabilities deserve every bit as much support and medical care (beyond individuals' pre-existing conditions) as those without long-term disabilities. My friend who trained at the leading US medical schools says she received no training on disability issues, yet these are the individuals tasked with rationing care. Having medical students read this would be a huge step in the right direction, though just the beginning and no substitute for laws that codify the rights of people with disabilities beyond the ADA, which is itself minimally enforced. It boils down to recognizing our lives deserve as much respect and that we have every right to full access and opportunity as anyone else. I also appreciated the discussion of the different movements within the disability community, as these nuances were very new to me. And lastly, I think the author set the perfect tone, calling us in instead of calling us out, as we seek to educate ourselves on what is called "disability etiquette," something we can all benefit from learning about, as we are only ever experts on our own experiences.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jen (Remembered Reads)

    While I’d recommend something with a bit more depth for an adult audience (and something less US-focused for an international audience), this would be a decent addition to a US-based secondary school library. A potentially solid 101/introductory text for a teenage audience.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Suzy

    Thanks to Ten Speed Press and NetGalley for the e-ARC! This was a nice overview about disability for a general audience. I think it could work well for teens, but many adults would benefit from reading it as well. This book is most effective when discussing topics like disability etiquette, how to talk about disability, recognizing and addressing ableism, and portrayals of disability in the media. Here, Ladau is able to pull in her own anecdotes and those of many other disabled activists, and her Thanks to Ten Speed Press and NetGalley for the e-ARC! This was a nice overview about disability for a general audience. I think it could work well for teens, but many adults would benefit from reading it as well. This book is most effective when discussing topics like disability etiquette, how to talk about disability, recognizing and addressing ableism, and portrayals of disability in the media. Here, Ladau is able to pull in her own anecdotes and those of many other disabled activists, and her strong convictions enable her to carve her own space among other basic overviews of disability. Ladau effectively acknowledges that she cannot speak for all disabled people, clarifying her specific lens as a physically disabled, straight, white, Jewish, cisgender woman. She includes quotes from many BIPOC & queer disabled people, as well as people with different types of disabilities from her own, to help emphasize the variety of viewpoints and lived experiences that exist within the disabled community. She is clear that while she can give broad recommendations for how to speak and think about disability, each disabled person will have their own opinions, and can clarify their own preferences about terminology, boundaries, etc. I found chapter 3 (“An (Incomplete) Overview of Disability History”) to be the least engaging. The whole chapter came across like she just felt obligated to include the subject. In an attempt to be approachable, Ladau starts by asking the reader not to abandon the book and promising that it won’t be boring. This is a pretty odd and ineffective way to introduce a topic. Then, her quite brief summary of U.S. disability history moved through events so quickly that I couldn’t see it being particularly useful to someone with no background information. It felt like the same care and effort was not put into this chapter, and it became unclear why it was even included.

  6. 4 out of 5

    HollyLovesBooks

    As both a mother of a developmentally disabled child and as a clinician who works only with this group, I found this book to be a new and helpful tool for all of us. It is helpful to me when advocating for my son but also as a clinician who cares about the population that I serve. It would be a great resource to the staff and families who care for this group as well. Reading through the history of the treatment and access to basics like education was interesting. It is incredible how far things As both a mother of a developmentally disabled child and as a clinician who works only with this group, I found this book to be a new and helpful tool for all of us. It is helpful to me when advocating for my son but also as a clinician who cares about the population that I serve. It would be a great resource to the staff and families who care for this group as well. Reading through the history of the treatment and access to basics like education was interesting. It is incredible how far things have come, albeit, slowly. I have worked in a facility (similar to Willowbrook, but not with the terrible conditions) and have seen the pros and cons of this institutional approach. Our facility has also closed and seeing the lives that the former inpatients, now community residents, are living has been a blessing. I think my favorite quote from this book and takeaway message is: "Disabled lives are worth living." This couldn't be more obvious of a point and yet more necessary of a point. Sadly, many people consider disabilities as a reason to not give the same care or consideration or respect to those who are affected by the disabilities, as they would give to an abled person. I have come across this many times in my work. In caring for some of the most profoundly intellectually and developmentally disabled folks, I have seen other healthcare providers fail to act as though these are people, often claiming "poor quality of life" (their presumption because the patients are different from themselves) as a reason to not give the same urgent care. And yet, I can say that there has never been one person with a disability that I have interacted with who was not worthy of love, respect, and dignity. I think this is a message that we all need to keep close when saying, thinking, or doing something that might be disrespectful to this community. Then apply the same to all communities, even those different from ourselves. As with most people, we find some common ground in which to build a relationship and that is no different here. Thank you for the eARC and good luck to the author on her writing and her advocacy. Highly recommend. I will have this as a recommendation for all the caregivers that I interact with when seeing folks with developmental disabilities. #DemystifyingDisability #NetGalley #TenSpeedPress

  7. 5 out of 5

    Gail

    Each of our lived experiences shape us. As a black woman with a non-apparent disability and a person lucky enough to work with Emily, I was eager to read her book. I found Emily’s book to be open and informative. It was a great mix of her lived experience and a guide to “demystifying” disability. I hope parents and caregivers take the time to read it — perhaps with their loved ones. And I hope every foundation CEO reads her book and recognizes disability as a key element in achieving diversity, e Each of our lived experiences shape us. As a black woman with a non-apparent disability and a person lucky enough to work with Emily, I was eager to read her book. I found Emily’s book to be open and informative. It was a great mix of her lived experience and a guide to “demystifying” disability. I hope parents and caregivers take the time to read it — perhaps with their loved ones. And I hope every foundation CEO reads her book and recognizes disability as a key element in achieving diversity, equity, and inclusion.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Katherine Hayward Pérez

    As soon as I found this on NetGalley, I knew I had to request it. I liked the definitions of disability from interviewees and the fact that one of the people is someone I know from an online disability community. I have Cerebral Palsy, Hydrocephalus and four visual impairments and have so many experiences of different treatment from different people throughout my life. I have experienced both ignorance and acceptance from people and life has been, and still is, a constant fight for inclusion. I As soon as I found this on NetGalley, I knew I had to request it. I liked the definitions of disability from interviewees and the fact that one of the people is someone I know from an online disability community. I have Cerebral Palsy, Hydrocephalus and four visual impairments and have so many experiences of different treatment from different people throughout my life. I have experienced both ignorance and acceptance from people and life has been, and still is, a constant fight for inclusion. I know so many people with disabilities will identify with me on this. 15% of the world's population has some type of disability. I don't need disability to be demystified for me as I live with my disabilities every day but this is exactly the type of book that I know could help many people who need to know more about the world of disability and what those of us with disabilities are constantly up against. Demystifying Disability will be good for those who think they "know it all" as they live with, or know, people with a disability. I believe everyone can learn more. Like Emily Ladau, I am a wheelchair user and I identified with her experiences. I also learnt about her disability. Another part of this book that I loved was her discussion of visible versus invisible disabilities, since I have both. My glasses and wheelchair are a marker of my visual disabilities, as are my scars from my shunt surgeries for hydrocephalus. However, unless I let people know I have hydrocephalus, let them know what it is and how it affects me, they have no idea that I have it or how serious it is. Likewise with my glasses. I have them but people cannot tell how strong my prescription is or that they only allow me to "see" the very little I can and that they don't correct my visual difficulties, that nothing will. I embrace all these parts of me and encourage those who do not to do so and for others with disabilities to embrace their own uniqueness. Demystifying Disability is a friendly but firm nudge in the right direction for people who think the world is accepting of people with disabilities. It will challenge your perception of disability whether you have a disability or not, and I hope it will go a long way in producing more real change in society. I think, and hope, it is the kind of book that will let people know that they shouldn't judge people based on what they "think" a person with a certain disability will look, or move, like. I sincerely wish I could have had access to this book when I was growing up, as I think it will have gone a long way in shaping people's attitudes. The message this book gives is that all of us with disabilities should love ourselves as we are and that everyone can learn something, no matter how much they think they know. Because we can all keep learning. Thanks to Emily Ladau for my ARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review. 5 stars.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Torrie Dunlap

    I have been waiting for a book like this for 20 years. Emily Ladau has given me everything I hoped for and more in Demystifying Disability. In my professional life, I help teachers and child care providers include kids with disabilities in their classrooms and programs. My colleagues and I have worked with over 100,000 educators in the United States and witnessed a gap in the knowledge of the disability community by the general population. The lack of understanding creates social barriers. Peopl I have been waiting for a book like this for 20 years. Emily Ladau has given me everything I hoped for and more in Demystifying Disability. In my professional life, I help teachers and child care providers include kids with disabilities in their classrooms and programs. My colleagues and I have worked with over 100,000 educators in the United States and witnessed a gap in the knowledge of the disability community by the general population. The lack of understanding creates social barriers. People are afraid of what they don't know. Emily's guiding philosophy for her work is, "If the disability community wants a world that's accessible to us, then we must make ideas and experiences of disability accessible to the world." Emily's philosophy is beautifully expressed in this well-written and practical handbook. It is just what is needed to create a more inclusive and accessible society. Emily covers a lot of ground in this easy-to-absorb book. She starts with the basics, defining disability and guiding readers on the language of disability. Often a significant stumbling block to inclusion is that people don't know what terms to use when talking about disability. She spends time explaining the many ways to think about disability. She processes the pros and cons of each of the mental models and their historical context. She fills in the void of disability history that we didn't learn in school, helping the reader appreciate the richness of disability culture. Throughout the book, Emily incorporates voices from a wide range of people who are part of the disability community, showing the diversity of experiences that make up the largest minority group in the United States. I appreciated the chapter on Disability in the Media. I believe it will help people become better consumers of entertainment and information. Emily shares practical resources for people who want to support the disability community in the ongoing struggle for more accessibility and civil rights. She reminds us that an "ally" is not something we are; it is something that we DO. Demystifying Disability is written in a warm, funny, approachable style. Emily welcomes you into her experience of life with a disability. She'll gently admonish you, if necessary, for outdated, stereotyped thinking or behavior, but in a non-preachy way. This combination of the content and the style has the power to change mindsets and thereby change actions. I can't wait to buy many copies of this one and hand it out to everyone I know. I'll be recommending it over and over again to clients, colleagues, as well as friends and family. Demystifying Disability is a valuable read for anyone who wants to increase understanding of the human experience and a must-read for anyone who serves the public. I can see this being a powerful reading experience in a classroom setting. I'd also encourage business leaders and parents to read this book. OK, everyone needs to read this book. I can't think of a person who would not benefit from this reading experience (from teenagers up).

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sacha

    Thanks to NetGalley and Ten Speed Press for this arc, which I received in exchange for an honest review. Here is that review: 5 stars Readers of this text will find exactly what Landau promises: education but not in the notoriously boring style of a textbook. Through her own experiences and extensive research and interviews of others, Landau provides a well-rounded exploration that, as the title suggests, demystifies disability primarily for those who are not disabled. Landau covers an array of Thanks to NetGalley and Ten Speed Press for this arc, which I received in exchange for an honest review. Here is that review: 5 stars Readers of this text will find exactly what Landau promises: education but not in the notoriously boring style of a textbook. Through her own experiences and extensive research and interviews of others, Landau provides a well-rounded exploration that, as the title suggests, demystifies disability primarily for those who are not disabled. Landau covers an array of subtopics here, but my favorites are the conversation about ableist language and examples of what to do and not do when interacting with disabled folks. After reading the section on language, I immediately found myself making a concerted effort to eliminate a couple of words from my vocabulary. While I know these words have unsavory roots, they are so profuse in my language and in language I hear every day that I hadn't even considered the larger implications. In addition to working to alter my own language, thinking about this section has led me into some already provocative (in a good way) conversations about how we can be more mindful of the language we use in general. It's disturbing but helpful to hear about the experiences that various disabled folks - Emily included - have had with generally well intentioned individuals. There's a strong variety of examples, settings, and circumstances, and while some of the instances are particularly painful or cringey, that's the point: not to look away but to learn and behave accordingly. As a person who not only works in higher education but who also specifically works in equity and inclusion, it is especially important to me to keep learning and improving, and this book is a welcome addition to that effort. I do think some folks who are a bit more aware of these issues will find some sections more rudimentary than needed, but the vast majority of readers will discover a wealth of helpful resources and info, and even the most engaged folks will come away with useful points and tips. I recommend this one for literally everybody.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Eunice R

    This is a much needed book, educating nondisabled people in how to relate to and treat, disabled people with greater respect and decent humanity. Emily Ladau, the author, is a disabled person. She really would like us to know these basics and I really appreciate her candid, almost, "in your face" approach to her informing. We do need to be jolted out of our patronizing, hurtful ways, even if we have been unintentional in causing offense and embarassment to the disabled we meet in any given day o This is a much needed book, educating nondisabled people in how to relate to and treat, disabled people with greater respect and decent humanity. Emily Ladau, the author, is a disabled person. She really would like us to know these basics and I really appreciate her candid, almost, "in your face" approach to her informing. We do need to be jolted out of our patronizing, hurtful ways, even if we have been unintentional in causing offense and embarassment to the disabled we meet in any given day or way. Ladau's do's and don't's have been very helpful in regards to which terminology is better; awareness of how ableist a nondisabled person can be; of creating more accessibility for the disabled people; to learn to respect and see each person, as a person and not as their disability, although that does need to be taken into account; and so on. I have certainly gleaned a lot to cogitate upon and to "do better" by putting it into practice for the long-haul. Included in this book are lists of books, films, online videos, and hashtags. These resource suggestions, aid in the instruction of the rights and treatment of the disabled. Understanding leads to insight which leads to better response as a way of life. Ladau tells of the podcast she co-hosts, which furthers this awareness and is another way to learn more. A helpful index of key words used finishes up the addenda. ~Eunice C. Reviewer/Blogger~ August 2021 Disclaimer: This is my honest opinion based on the review copy sent by the publisher.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ariel Henley

    I've been a big fan of Emily Ladau for a few years now so I was very excited when I found out she was writing a book. "Demystifying Disability" is a quick read that combines information, resources, and personal stories from the author and other people in the disability community that will help readers unpack their own internalized ableism and really learn about disability. Throughout this book, Emily incorporates some of her own perspectives and experiences, and even the way her feelings and opi I've been a big fan of Emily Ladau for a few years now so I was very excited when I found out she was writing a book. "Demystifying Disability" is a quick read that combines information, resources, and personal stories from the author and other people in the disability community that will help readers unpack their own internalized ableism and really learn about disability. Throughout this book, Emily incorporates some of her own perspectives and experiences, and even the way her feelings and opinions have shifted over the years. The author acknowledging that we’re all constantly learning and evolving is part of what makes this book such a great tool for learning about disabilities. It’s welcoming for readers, whether they are new to learning about disability or are disabled themselves. By breaking down topics and explaining them in a really straightforward, accessible way, Emily gives readers the tools to continue educating themselves even after they've finished reading. I specifically loved that Emily explored both Identity Fist Language and Person First Language. She also gave examples of ableism and provided readers with a guide of words/terms to avoid and what to say instead. While I’ll admit I was hoping “deformed” would’ve been on the list of words to avoid, I recognize that this book isn’t meant to be focused on one type disability and that's okay. Overall, this book is a super helpful guide and overview. It is going to change people’s understanding of disability and help readers unpack their own assumptions about what it means to be disabled. It should be required reading for everyone. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for allowing me to read a digital ARC.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Heather Kerstetter

    I’ve been thinking a lot about this book since I finished it, and I felt like I would be doing a misdeed to not leave it a review. From the very first chapter, I found it to be steeped in ableism. “I believe offering honest and sincere guidance and conversation remains a key part of the path forward for the disability community. That’s how progress has been made by the powerhouse disability activists who have come before me” already set the tone that disabled people should tell their stories in I’ve been thinking a lot about this book since I finished it, and I felt like I would be doing a misdeed to not leave it a review. From the very first chapter, I found it to be steeped in ableism. “I believe offering honest and sincere guidance and conversation remains a key part of the path forward for the disability community. That’s how progress has been made by the powerhouse disability activists who have come before me” already set the tone that disabled people should tell their stories in order to get our basic human rights met. No disabled person should be forced to be a “teacher” to others. We don’t have to offer guidance or have conversations with nondisabled folks in order to be respected and to qualify to have our needs met. This book goes on to sugarcoat disability in some of the goofiest ways I’ve ever read, going so far as to compare different disability presentations to different slices of pizza. If this book was written for children, that may be acceptable. But for a “wide range of audiences”, as the author has suggested, it is infantalizing. And is that not something that disabled people fight against? We don’t want nondisabled people infantalizing us, but this book turns around and infantalizes its audience. In the Disability History chapter, the author says “my goal isn’t to put you to sleep”, as if our history as disabled folks is a snooze. Our history is part of our culture & part of disability justice. You can’t separate the disability movement from its history. But this chapter felt like it was raced through with urgency, as if it was a highlight reel. How can we seek disability justice if others don’t know what came before? You can’t just lightly touch on something that has shaped our past, present, and future. I could say so many more things- my critiques for this book are limitless. If you want to learn more about disability, our beautiful culture, our rich history, our real and valid struggles with ableism, etc., this book isn’t the right one. Instead, I would recommend Care Work or Disability Visibility.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kari

    “Disability is not a brave struggle or courage in the face of adversity. Disability is an art. It’s an ingenious way to live.” As a person living with disabilities, I find this book to be well informed and a guide to ending the negative stigma associated with having a disability. Having a disability doesn’t mean “one is less of a person than anyone else.” And when I came upon this book , it was a wealth full of knowledge; not only for myself and empowering me but a huge source of information for “Disability is not a brave struggle or courage in the face of adversity. Disability is an art. It’s an ingenious way to live.” As a person living with disabilities, I find this book to be well informed and a guide to ending the negative stigma associated with having a disability. Having a disability doesn’t mean “one is less of a person than anyone else.” And when I came upon this book , it was a wealth full of knowledge; not only for myself and empowering me but a huge source of information for an able bodied person to gain how to learn about the many different disabilities. It teaches and shows them what they may be doing or saying that could perhaps be inappropriate to a disabled person. It’s to normalize people with disabilities and not be afraid of or treat them as freaks. You learn they are no different than you. The many disabilities can include those you see and don’t see such as: Chronic illness, Communication disorders, Developmental disabilities, Hearing disabilities, Intellectual disabilities, Learning disabilities, Mental health disabilities, Neurological disorders, Physical disabilities and Vision disabilities. This book is a must read as a way of continuing to end the negative stigmas and prejudices by learning so many things you may not have known. It is invaluable to read. I’m so thankful for this book, DEMYSTIFYING DISABILITIES and I want to thank my {Partner} @tenspeedpress @randomhouse and the Author, @emilyladau for the gifted copy. This book goes on sale 9/21/21.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Beginandendwithbooks

    Readers who appreciated Sitting Pretty and Disability Visibility, pick up Demystifying Disability: What to Know, What to Say, and How to Be an Ally. This new release reads as a handbook with practical guidelines regarding how to be appropriate, aware, considerate, and sensitive. This book is very approachable and readable. The discussion of language and word choice; a history of disability activism; the exploration of ableism; a discussion of accessibility; and an examination of disability repres Readers who appreciated Sitting Pretty and Disability Visibility, pick up Demystifying Disability: What to Know, What to Say, and How to Be an Ally. This new release reads as a handbook with practical guidelines regarding how to be appropriate, aware, considerate, and sensitive. This book is very approachable and readable. The discussion of language and word choice; a history of disability activism; the exploration of ableism; a discussion of accessibility; and an examination of disability representation are all thought-provoking. I love that Emily Ladau’s handbook is very specific and direct. This book made me think about preconceived notions regarding disabilities and will affect the way I discuss disabilities with my children. Thank you to @TenSpeedPress and @EmilyLadau for sending me a copy of Demystifying Disability: What to Know, What to Say, and How to Be an Ally. I highly recommend this concise and informative handbook to all humans aiming to learn more about how to appropriately approach disability. “...both helplessness and being in need of help are two of the overarching stereotypes associated with disability. This means that the first step to being an ally is unlearning this misconception and recognizing that disabled people aren’t in need of saving. We’re in need of a world that recognizes our rights and our humanity without question.”

  16. 4 out of 5

    Anna T. (despasurlesable)

    I would like to thank the publisher of Demystifying Disability: What to Know, What to Say, and How to Be an Ally for providing me with an Advanced Reader Copy through NetGalley. I self-identity as a woman with chronic pain and depression and I consider myself disabled. This book is a brilliant, engaging, practical and informative book on disabilities. I would recommend this read to educators, parents and adults who want to be socially conscious citizens and allies. It's the perfect, introductory, I would like to thank the publisher of Demystifying Disability: What to Know, What to Say, and How to Be an Ally for providing me with an Advanced Reader Copy through NetGalley. I self-identity as a woman with chronic pain and depression and I consider myself disabled. This book is a brilliant, engaging, practical and informative book on disabilities. I would recommend this read to educators, parents and adults who want to be socially conscious citizens and allies. It's the perfect, introductory, non-fiction book on disabilities.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Library of Dreaming (Bookstagram)

    Thank you to the publishers and NetGalley for an eARC in exchange for an honest review! Receiving this book was like Christmas coming early. I absolutely adored every page. It’s easily made its way onto my list of favorite books in 2021 and now I want the entire world to read it too! Emily Ladau has created an appealing, easy to understand guide to disability. In six laser sharp chapters, she outlines disability etiquette, defines major terms, provides a quick overview of disability history, and Thank you to the publishers and NetGalley for an eARC in exchange for an honest review! Receiving this book was like Christmas coming early. I absolutely adored every page. It’s easily made its way onto my list of favorite books in 2021 and now I want the entire world to read it too! Emily Ladau has created an appealing, easy to understand guide to disability. In six laser sharp chapters, she outlines disability etiquette, defines major terms, provides a quick overview of disability history, and describes the lows and highs of disability representation in the media. Challenging issues like ableism are fully fleshed out with care and subtle humor. I can’t wait to get my finished copy so I can highlight every page. Then I want to mail it to my entire family, my friends, and everyone I pass on the street. Please add this book to your wishlists ASAP! I think process this information will genuinely fill a gap in your life and make you a better human being. Period. Even though I’m disabled, my experience is not one-size-fits-all and this book has reminded me that I have a lot of work to do. Ladou’s work has inspired and challenged me.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Slice

    Emily speaks with humility and candor and it's obvious that her work is deeply informed by research and her own lived experience. I found myself willing and eager to learn while reading her work. Emily is kind and brilliant and that shines through in her book and, as a disabled woman, I am thankful that it is in the world. Emily speaks with humility and candor and it's obvious that her work is deeply informed by research and her own lived experience. I found myself willing and eager to learn while reading her work. Emily is kind and brilliant and that shines through in her book and, as a disabled woman, I am thankful that it is in the world.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jessie

    Disability 101 This is a great book for colleagues, friends or family who want to do and say the right thing, but don’t know how to start the conversation.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mark Fallon

    An important book written in plain language. Very helpful in understanding the importance of language when discussing disabilities or people with disabilities. The title of her last section says it all: "Most Importantly, Keep Learning" An important book written in plain language. Very helpful in understanding the importance of language when discussing disabilities or people with disabilities. The title of her last section says it all: "Most Importantly, Keep Learning"

  21. 4 out of 5

    Zoe

    And excellent resource for people trying to understand the disabled community. This is an introduction to disability that describes most common terms, preferred language, and so on. It's not a definitive guide, but rather a vital resource to help allies understand the disabled community and how they can be a *good* ally. ~I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.~ And excellent resource for people trying to understand the disabled community. This is an introduction to disability that describes most common terms, preferred language, and so on. It's not a definitive guide, but rather a vital resource to help allies understand the disabled community and how they can be a *good* ally. ~I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.~

  22. 5 out of 5

    Artie Carden

    Demystify Disability: what to know, what to say, and how to be an ally by @emilyladau has been a really great read. I’ve learned a lot as a disabled person from the UK about ableism specifically in America, I now just wish there was a book like this for every country in the world so we can all understand our homelands’ reaction to disability better. Obviously a lot of the points made are universal, there’s a lot of useful information and tips for either newly disabled or nondisabled people looki Demystify Disability: what to know, what to say, and how to be an ally by @emilyladau has been a really great read. I’ve learned a lot as a disabled person from the UK about ableism specifically in America, I now just wish there was a book like this for every country in the world so we can all understand our homelands’ reaction to disability better. Obviously a lot of the points made are universal, there’s a lot of useful information and tips for either newly disabled or nondisabled people looking to be better allies. It’s a pretty accessible read, the words are too big and complicated, and I really loved the history lesson as this is something I want to learn more about (hence I wish there was a UK version, I know next to nothing about disability history in the UK) This book isn’t out until September 2021, but I highly recommend you add this to your wish lists. There has been a clear effort made to include disability in all intersections, it is not just white straight cis disabled voices in this book and actually a few quotes from one of my favourite activists and creators are included @crutches_and_spice and the lovely @andrewgurza_ Also the original arc I received from #NetGalley was ironically inaccessible and had a huge stamp across every page, I brought this up to the author on Twitter and it was eventually changed. :) I personally really loved the section on disability in media as someone who want(ed/s) to be an actor and does want to be a performer and creator of other kids, this was deeply personal and all the tropes and responses I’ve heard (as a very small early stages actor) were listed and I hope more people will at least read this book before they bulldoze on with their ableist depictions of disabled people (a recent one I saw was a man finds out he has a terminal illness and commits s u i c i d e as to not be a burden on his girlfriend 🤢) There’s also a super handy conclusion for people trying to be better allies with very simple steps to improve. HIGHLY RECOMMEND

  23. 4 out of 5

    Caroline

    I must admit I had never heard of or read anything by Emily Ladau, the author of Demystifying Disability before reading this book. Having worked a few years back in a radio station run by people with disabilities, designed for an audience with desabilities and discussing only about disability connected questions (accessibility, policies, everyday life...), I thought I was quite aware of the subject. However, reading Demystifying Disabilities , I realised I had acquired theorethical knowledge abo I must admit I had never heard of or read anything by Emily Ladau, the author of Demystifying Disability before reading this book. Having worked a few years back in a radio station run by people with disabilities, designed for an audience with desabilities and discussing only about disability connected questions (accessibility, policies, everyday life...), I thought I was quite aware of the subject. However, reading Demystifying Disabilities , I realised I had acquired theorethical knowledge about disabilities and how to improve people's accessibility but not how to "deal with people". Everybody should read this book, print the list of Do's and Don't and reread it from time to time. As a parent now, I already tried to shush my daughters when they started to point at someone in a wheelchair or with Tourette's syndrom. We cannot undo what has been done but we can try our best to act in a more respectful way. The writing is clear and easy to read even for teenagers. I would highly recommend it to open a conversation in schools. Thank you to Netgalley for providing an eArc in exchange of an honest review.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Shana

    ***Thanks to NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for my honest review*** Ableism is still an area in which I am still pretty ignorant, so when I saw this ARC, I knew I wanted to read it. Emily Ladau provides a comprehensive overview of issues that disabled people face, and how non-disabled people can work towards becoming better allies. The tone is conversational and the information is broken down into accessible chunks. She covers topics like appropriate language, how not to commit microaggressio ***Thanks to NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for my honest review*** Ableism is still an area in which I am still pretty ignorant, so when I saw this ARC, I knew I wanted to read it. Emily Ladau provides a comprehensive overview of issues that disabled people face, and how non-disabled people can work towards becoming better allies. The tone is conversational and the information is broken down into accessible chunks. She covers topics like appropriate language, how not to commit microaggressions, different types of disability, disability history, and so much more. Beyond this information, Ladau is conscientious in addressing the privileges she does hold as a white, cisgender, disabled woman, and recognizing that her experience is not the sole one from which we should be learning. Likewise, she reminds readers often that ultimately, you must check in with the individual (with whom you have some sort of relationship) in order to know their preferred language and means of support around their disability. Since disability encompasses so many different types of experiences, we need to expand our ways of imagining the world in order to truly be inclusive.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Christiane Link

    I waited for this book for months, and I must admit I'm disappointed. The author wrote this book with so much caution not to offend non-disabled people that it loses its purpose. Disability politics and history are strongly linked to how non-disabled people treat disabled people. I've never read about ableism in such a sugar-coated way. The chapter about models of disabilities is far too superficial for the importance of the topic. The context in which the social model was developed is missing, I waited for this book for months, and I must admit I'm disappointed. The author wrote this book with so much caution not to offend non-disabled people that it loses its purpose. Disability politics and history are strongly linked to how non-disabled people treat disabled people. I've never read about ableism in such a sugar-coated way. The chapter about models of disabilities is far too superficial for the importance of the topic. The context in which the social model was developed is missing, and then the author explains it too simple. The history part of the book is a US history part. Disability history is more than the US history, and developments in other countries have influenced the disability community in the US (e.g. the social model was developed in the UK). I also don't think that a chapter on "disability etiquette" is very progressive. Someone said in a review before mine this is a good book for teenagers, and I agree. From grown-up allies, I expect more than this book suggests. And one last comment, the author mentions she prefers "Identify-first language". Great. I fully support that, but why is most (all?) of the book then written in "person-first language"?

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mangeuse de Livres

    An introduction to respect, understand and be an ally to people with disabilities. From the vocabulary to use to the "etiquette" of being around a person with a disability. The book also touched upon ableism and how to react to it. The author was very clear and repeated a lot of times that this book is an introduction and not a complete guide because she's only one person so she can't represent the whole disabled experience. She links a lot of ressources we can use to further educate ourselves w An introduction to respect, understand and be an ally to people with disabilities. From the vocabulary to use to the "etiquette" of being around a person with a disability. The book also touched upon ableism and how to react to it. The author was very clear and repeated a lot of times that this book is an introduction and not a complete guide because she's only one person so she can't represent the whole disabled experience. She links a lot of ressources we can use to further educate ourselves wich is awesome (there are not only books !). I also love how she used a lot of personal experiences (from her as well as from other people she talked to or read about) as examples. Of course, because she's a wheelchair user, her examples were often about this but she also tried to include a diversity of experiences. So for me it was a bit too introductory but the author warned me at the beginning ! I think her words were always wisely chosen and even tough it was stuff I already knew for the most part, it was good to have it solidified AND put in perspective too !

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jan

    I was not born with a real disability, nor did I sustain injuries causing visible or invisible disabilities related to GSW/MVA/IED. I'm just an old retired nurse with arthritis and a few other things who used to work head trauma and other rehabs. I've been around enough to value everything the author has to say about those who do have real disabilities whether visible or invisible and the injustices and stupidities that others have subjected them to. This book needs to be in curricula, doctor's I was not born with a real disability, nor did I sustain injuries causing visible or invisible disabilities related to GSW/MVA/IED. I'm just an old retired nurse with arthritis and a few other things who used to work head trauma and other rehabs. I've been around enough to value everything the author has to say about those who do have real disabilities whether visible or invisible and the injustices and stupidities that others have subjected them to. This book needs to be in curricula, doctor's offices, libraries, and homes everywhere while we all advocate for inclusiveness and honest sensitivity. This was just the poke I needed to stop complaining and DO something about the lack of entry/egress on Amtrak (the ride is a marvelous, but getting in/out of the car is %). Planning to get a copy for my local library as well! I requested and received a free temporary ebook from Clarkson Potter/Ten Speed Press via NetGalley. Thank you!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Katherine

    Emily Ladau has written a perfect introductory book for anyone wanting to better understand the needs of the disability community. The content is easy to follow and uses clear, every day language making it well suited for teens and children alike. It ranges from what I would hope is somewhat self evident advice ("don't ask invasive questions about a stranger's disability") to informative, detailed information about accessibility in public spaces. The particular strength of "Demystifying Disabili Emily Ladau has written a perfect introductory book for anyone wanting to better understand the needs of the disability community. The content is easy to follow and uses clear, every day language making it well suited for teens and children alike. It ranges from what I would hope is somewhat self evident advice ("don't ask invasive questions about a stranger's disability") to informative, detailed information about accessibility in public spaces. The particular strength of "Demystifying Disability" is the incredible range and diversity of voices included. Emily Ladau is clearly active in the disability community and wants to introduce the reader to all of her friends. This allows for a variety of forms of disability to be represented and explored. The resource list at the end of the book is particularly helpful and extends learning beyond the pages of the book. I'm excited for this book to be released so that I can start recommending it to friends! Thank you NetGalley for the ARC!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Nikki

    Demystifying Disability: What to Know, What to Say, and How to Be an Ally by Emily Ladau is an essential read for teens to adults who are educating themselves for the first time or furthering their un-learning/re-learning in how to actively be an ally to the disabled community. I loved Ladau’s writing style. She weaves together her own personal experiences, research, and interviews to provide the most friendly and inclusive as possible handbook about disability. Demystifying Disability was not m Demystifying Disability: What to Know, What to Say, and How to Be an Ally by Emily Ladau is an essential read for teens to adults who are educating themselves for the first time or furthering their un-learning/re-learning in how to actively be an ally to the disabled community. I loved Ladau’s writing style. She weaves together her own personal experiences, research, and interviews to provide the most friendly and inclusive as possible handbook about disability. Demystifying Disability was not my first non-fiction read about disability nor will it be my last. It was well written and left me with much to consider going forward that I wasn’t aware of before. This book is a really great place to start conversations about disability and while it is filled with a lot of information, it did not feel like I was reading a textbook at all. I would absolutely recommend this book and believe it belongs somewhere within the secondary grades curriculum.

  30. 5 out of 5

    H

    Some of the things I picked up from this book: * Person-first language (PFL) versus identity-first language (IFL) - I had thought I was supposed to always use PFL, but some people prefer IFL, so just use what people want. Makes sense! * Medical model vs social model of disability and others The history chapter is described as incomplete, but I was disappointing that it listed positive disability efforts by JFK and Eunice Kennedy while failing to mention that Rosemary Kennedy was lobotomized and spe Some of the things I picked up from this book: * Person-first language (PFL) versus identity-first language (IFL) - I had thought I was supposed to always use PFL, but some people prefer IFL, so just use what people want. Makes sense! * Medical model vs social model of disability and others The history chapter is described as incomplete, but I was disappointing that it listed positive disability efforts by JFK and Eunice Kennedy while failing to mention that Rosemary Kennedy was lobotomized and spent most of her life in an asylum. Great quotes: "'Low functioning' is used to deny agency to disable people who have support needs, while 'high functioning' is used to deny resources to people who can mask their disability well. Any person's suppose needs can shift from year to year, or even day to day, making 'functioning' a flawed concept." "Some people with disabilities like to refer to non-disabled people as temporarily able-bodied"

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