Not ‘abled panic ’
Drawing inspiration from critical disability studies, this thesis aims to understand how people with disabilities and d/Deaf individuals assert their expertise during the COVID-19 pandemic through personal experience narratives and connect this to critiques of societal values associated with late capitalism. First, people with disabilities and d/Deaf individuals have valuable knowledge, strategies, and skills that are relevant to navigating the pandemic which emphasize well-being over productivity. Second, people with disabilities build on this expertise by positioning their wisdom relevant to the pandemic as proof for the urgent societal need for increased representation and recognition and collective liberation from capitalist values of extreme individualism and demands of constant productivity. This thesis draws on eleven personal narratives from two d/Deaf individuals and seven people with disabilities. The personal narratives were collected from blog posts, articles, books, and Tweets. Chapter two analyzes narratives from d/Deaf activists who demonstrate their expertise about concentration fatigue by providing tips that emphasize self-care and then advocate for increased representation in research. Chapter three demonstrates how people with disabilities use the pandemic as an opportunity to assert their expertise in the following areas: mutual aid, staying at home, self-care, navigating uncertainty, being adaptable, understanding interconnectedness, and coping with an economy that goes against one's well-being. As many organizations moved online during the pandemic to allow for social distancing, there was a sudden expansion of accommodations, such as being allowed to work from home. In chapter four, scholars with disabilities react to this increase in accommodations and position crip wisdom as proof that people with disabilities have the knowledge and skills to prepare society for the next disaster and position the pandemic as a call to reexamine capitalist values.