Graphic: The Disability Rights and Independent Living Movement

Anthony Tusler

Audio transcript: On not recognizing disability in others
Date: March 28, 2002
Interviewer: Susan O'Hara

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

Tusler: mother had a disability when I was growing up, her emotional disability, that I didn't even recognize was a disability until four or five years ago. That those people who were closest to us—. That phenomenon that I think we all have in the United States anyway, that I call the Uncle Bill Syndrome where Uncle Bill has a disability and we don't recognize that he has a disability. He's just Uncle Bill, even if he uses wheelchair or doesn't have a leg. And I believe that that's true because we have this—it's cognitive dissonance. Our belief in what being disabled means is to be those things that I feared which is helpless, and pitiful, and sad, and tragic. It's clear that Uncle Bill isn't those ways. So then, can we change our beliefs about what it means to be disabled? No, it's a lot easier to think of Uncle Bill as not being disabled.

I did that same thing with my mother's experience. And so, me growing up with a disability and her having a disability, I never put the two together, you know, until just fairly recently in my life.

End of transcript

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