Student Reflection

By Sarah Gould

“A Closer Look into Physical Disabilities: An Oral History,” unfolded into an eye opening experience. This project forced me to view these individuals through the eyes of the general public. The narrators present struggles faced by one family living with physical disabilities. A married couple with cerebral palsy from birth describe the issues of self-worth, prejudices, and affects on lifestyle. In addition, family members, such as a mother, sister, and daughter, are interviewed in order to bring different perspectives to the individuals’ lives as well as their family member’s disability’s affect on their own lives. Marty describes the judgment he feels from others in response to his speech. Denise emphasizes the stares she feels frequently in public. Yet, their lives are built to contradict the assumptions: marriage, family, career are lifestyles not associated with people who walk like Denise and talk like Marty. This oral history shows more courage and integrity in these individuals than I was previously able to recognize. Until that point, I did not see these individuals as different. I couldn’t hear any difference his Marty’s voice or notice the struggle in Denise’s walk. All I saw were my parents.

This oral history challenges the way in which the general public views individuals who may be different physically from themselves. The approach, however, was not to prove this point. Instead, the narrators tell their story, exposing their struggles, achievements, and courage. The narrators provide an opportunity to understand who they are, and how they experience life.