Disability Pride: Dispatches from a Post-ADA World (Hardcover)
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A revealing portrait of the diverse disability community as it is today, and how disability attitudes, activism, and representation have evolved since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
In Disability Pride, disabled journalist Ben Mattlin weaves together interviews and reportage to introduce a cavalcade of individuals, ideas, and events in engaging, fast-paced prose. He traces the generation that came of age after the ADA reshaped America, and how it is influencing the future. He documents how autistic self-advocacy and the neurodiversity movement upended views of those whose brains work differently. He lifts the veil on a thriving disability culture—from social media to high fashion, Hollywood to Broadway—showing how the politics of beauty for those with marginalized body types and facial features is sparking widespread change.
He also explores the movement’s shortcomings, particularly the erasure of nonwhite and LGBTQIA+ people that helped give rise to Disability Justice. He delves into systemic ableism in health care, the right-to-die movement, institutionalization, and the scourge of subminimum-wage labor that some call legalized slavery. And he finds glimmers of hope in how disabled people never give up their fight for parity and fair play.
Beautifully written, without anger or pity, Disability Pride is a revealing account of an often misunderstood movement and identity, an inclusive reexamination of society’s treatment of those it deems different.
About the Author
Ben Mattlin is a journalist, essayist, and author. Born with spinal muscular atrophy, a congenital muscle weakness, he has been a lifelong wheelchair user. His books include Miracle Boy Grows Up and In Sickness and In Health. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, USA Today, and Vox, and on NPR. He lives in Los Angeles, California. Follow him on Twitter (@benmattlin).
"Passionate, deeply researched, and full of insight, Disability Pride probes the most profound legacy of the ADA: the ways that it forever transformed how disabled people feel about themselves, from passive recipients of charity to active agents in the transformation of society and leaders in a new kind of civil rights movement. A brilliantly written and timely book."
—Steve Silberman, author of NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity
"Ben Mattlin’s Disability Pride is a highly readable narrative of a post-ADA US, where those of us with disabilities have more visibility but whose stories, and lives, are still controlled by mainstream media, which still does not provide true authentic disability depictions. Readers will not only learn about autistic self-advocacy and the Disability Justice movement but also about how much still needs to happen for people with disabilities to be truly equal members of society."
—Kenny Fries, author of In the Province of the Gods
"When discussing pride regarding our disabilities, Ben Mattlin gives the community a source of reflection, inclusion, inspiration, and, more importantly, a sense of belonging. The disability community is often marginalized and demonized for our mere existence—this book is an important step toward full inclusion and acceptance of what and who we are."
—Keith P. Jones, president of SoulTouchin' Experiences
"The disability rights movement reached a highwater mark with the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), but it’s only grown more vital in the decades since. Journalist Ben Mattlin takes us on a brilliant tour of the post-ADA world—filled with everyone from a paraplegic actress who won a Tony Award for playing Ado Annie in Oklahoma! on Broadway to an Asian American autistic blogger who argues for autistic people to take control of their own narratives. And he writes movingly about being, as he puts it, a ‘member of the club.’ Mattlin is clear-eyed about what he believes is needed: more. More laws, more inclusion, more understanding. Disability Pride is both a compelling travelogue and a much-needed rallying cry."
—Adam Cohen, author of Supreme Inequality: The Supreme Court’s Fifty-Year Battle for a More Unjust America
"Ben Mattlin’s stunning book Disability Pride marks a pivotal moment in the world of disability rights and in the lives of those who live in disabled bodies. Comprehensively researched and compulsively readable, Mattlin tracks how far we’ve come in terms of accessibility and equity, and how far we have—still—to go."
—Emily Rapp Black, author of The Still Point of the Turning World
"I devoured Disability Pride. This is the book I wish I’d had as a young disabled person growing up in a world that told me almost nothing about the dynamic community or history of which I was a part. Ben Mattlin has gathered our stories to tell a true and complicated tale of disability pride. Leaning into the infinitely diverse range of intersections and expressions of disability, Mattlin expands the narrow portrayals of disability to tell a deeply human story that fostered a sturdy kind of pride in me."
—Rebekah Taussig, author of Sitting Pretty: The View from My Ordinary Resilient Disabled Body