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False Message: Disability is a tragedy to be alleviated.

When it comes to disability, we receive many erroneous and incomplete messages from the media and popular culture. Here’s the second of four false messages we receive about disability.


Disability is a tragedy to be alleviated.


Popular books and films (like Me Before You) send a message that life with a disability is not a life worth living. The New Atlantis has also recently exposed how legislation in Canada to permit euthanasia similarly underscores a message that disability is a fate worse than death. (Ross Douthat has also written about this in the New York Times.) 

Countless disability advocates tell a different story. 


According to research from Brian Skotko, “nearly 99% of people with Down syndrome indicated that they were happy with their lives, 97% liked who they are, and 96% liked how they look. Their siblings and other family members also reported positive experiences within their families.” 

According to a BBC essay, “impairment usually makes little difference to quality of life. Research shows, for example, that overall levels of life satisfaction for people with spinal cord injury are not affected by their physical ability.”

Plenty of people with disabilities do experience suffering, but changes to our support networks and communal acceptance and welcome would help us address the needs of people with disabilities rather than reducing those needs to irresolvably tragic conditions. Reclaiming an understanding of suffering as an aspect of human life that we can face with compassion and care allows all of us to recognize that all human life is fragile and uncertain and valuable and beloved.  

False Messages About Disability:

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