Graphic: The Disability Rights and Independent Living Movement

June Kailes

Audio transcript: On the medical model of disability and the growing need to address health issues within the movement
Date: July 18, 2002
Interviewer: Kathy Cowan

Note: Transcripts have been lightly edited; therefore there may be slight discrepancies with audio clips.

It's only, I think, in the last several years that people have become aware that health issues can't be ignored, that people are aging, and that some people with disabilities have to use the medical system all the time and it's not very good and it's getting worse. Something needs to be done if we don't want people to die off on us. Gradually, I think, more people are coming around but health has never been a major committee of NCIL's [National Council on Independent Living]. That says something.

That's interesting.

The anti-medical model value system was so strong about doctors telling us what to do and what we couldn't do, and certifying if we are disabled or not, how ludicrous that is. The whole patient model, you have to patiently wait for someone to do something to you. And the whole thing about getting cured versus being accepted for who you are. And not looking at your capacity and your capability, and the fact that we're going to have you learn how to tie your shoe if it takes the rest of your life when that's not productive. I think a lot of that has to do with people still not crossing the line in terms of understanding the value of getting involved in health advocacy.

That's a good explanation.

A movement, when it starts out, everything is black and white, nothing is gray. Consumer control, or everything. It's either, "yes" or "no," so, "no." "Medical, no, we don't do that." It's only when the movement matures and begins to see the gray that people start to go deeper in their understanding of what's involved. There are many people who have to interact with the system weekly, and we can't ignore those people.

End of transcript

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