lennard j davis

Did these people [in academia who claim that they are not exposed to disabled people] realize that when they encountered the work of Rosa Luxemburg (who limped), Antonio Gramsci (a crippled, dwarfed hunchback), John Milton (blind), Alexander Pope (dwarfed hunchback), George Gordon Brown (club foot), [Jorge] Luis Borges, James Joyce, and James Thurber (all blind), Harriet Martineau (deaf), Toulouse-Lautrec (spinal deformity), Frida Kahlo (osteomyelitis), Virginia Woolf (lupus), they were meeting people with disabilities? Do filmgoers realize when they watch the films of James Ford, Raoul Walsh, André de Toth, Nicholas Ray, Tay Garnett and William Wyler that these directors were all physically impaired? Why is it when one looks these figures in dictionaries of biography or encyclopedias that their physical disabilities are usually not mentioned – unless the disability is seen as related to creativity, as in the case of the blind bard Milton or the deaf Beethoven? There is an ableist notion at work here that anyone who creates a canonical work must be physically able. Likewise, why do we not know that Helen Keller was a socialist, a member of the Wobblies, the International Workers of the World, and an advocate of free love? We assume that our ‘official’ mascots of disability are nothing else but their disability.
—  Lennard J. Davis, Enforcing Normalcy: Disability, Deafness, and the Body