mosaic filter over a drawing of children raising up their arms as a header photo for the false message about disability

False Message: Disability is a problem to be fixed.

Every day, we encounter images and phrases and assumptions and false messages about disability that shape our way of perceiving people with disabilities. Many of these depictions and assumptions are incomplete at best and harmful at worst. Here is the first of four false messages that our culture tells us about disability:

False Message: Disability is a problem to be fixed.

26% of American adults live with a disability of some kind. Instead of viewing disability—and people with disabilities—as problems to be fixed, we can view disability as an aspect of human life that will come to almost every one of us at some point in our lives. 

Where this false message about disability shows up:

In the media, when reporters write stories about individuals who “suffer from” Down syndrome or are “confined to” a wheelchair. In doctor’s offices, when individuals are defined solely by biomedical concerns with lists of potential problems and deficits. In faith communities, when people assume they know what a person with disabilities needs and wants simply by looking at their bodies. 


Sometimes having a disability involves pain, and looking for ways to alleviate or even end that pain can be helpful. And yet often the pain and suffering that arise as a result of disability come from a social system that excludes and stigmatizes people with disabilities, not from the disability itself. 

People with disabilities are a diverse group of people with real needs and real gifts, with pain and sorrow alongside hope and joy, with bodies and minds that are limited and vulnerable and glorious and beautiful.

False Messages About Disability:

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