• Yergeau: Mental Disability and Rhetorical Displacement

    Posted on April 13th, 2014 msmith88 No comments

    Yergeau’s lecture talks about mental disability and rhetorical displacement. She refers to “mental disability” as any disability of the mind or brain, which includes anything having to do with psychiatric, developmental, learning, or attention. Yergeau’s main focus in the lecture is about “audience and what bodies we signal, center, and ignore in the construction of our professional and virtual spaces.” In the video, she mentions how frustrating it is to be a disabled person and to observe mental disability that connects to violence and lack of rhetoricity on the part of mentally disabled people.

    After the Newtown, Connecticut shooting, Yergeau found news articles that related mental disability to violence. Over a three-day span, there were over 64 articles that connected the two. With these, she explains that the media made assumptions regarding audience, authorship, competence. Yergeau explained how they heard feedback from parents, siblings, psychologists, and politicians with theories to reconstruct the mental health system. However, she did not hear an opinion from anybody with a mental disability. Her findings send the message that “people with mental disabilities are incapable of functioning as rhetors, never mind audience members, and the only folks who are truly affected by mental disability are the ones who don’t actually have a mental disability.” The disability rights slogan is “nothing about us without us,” and it definitely brings to light the issue that there is not much disabled representation in matters that concern disabled people.

    Yergeau discusses the “able-bodied default” and how it is not a practical audience for this type of content. She says that when disabled people make accomodations for their needs, they have to think about how it will affect others around them and how they are imposing on other people. This situation may identify mentally disabled people as “special.” Also, Yergeau uses a conference flyer from Nisonger Autism Institute as an example. The flyer’s theme related to accessibility, but no one listed on the document is disabled and there is no reference for people with autism to attend. These examples do not welcome disabled people, and as a writer for this type of content, it is vital to include that disabled people are most definitely welcomed and their accommodation requests are encouraged. Yergeau’s lecture made me realize the importance of direct referencing and welcoming a specific audience.

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