Georgetown student working to shift the conversation about disabilities

The Washington Post recently profiled Georgetown University sophomore Anna Landre (F’21) and her efforts to “change the way people think about disabilities.” Landre, who has spinal muscular atrophy type 2 and is in a wheelchair, urges others to view disability as a core part of her identity, rather than a deficit to overcome.

In a column for The Hoya, Landre explained the importance of this mindset, writing, “Disabled people are America’s largest minority, and as a society we fail to pursue equality for this group when we separate disability from other types of ‘diverse’ identities.”

Landre says that society tends to assume that, for disabled people, the source of adversity is internal—a medical condition—whereas “for other minority groups, we tend to understand that their adversity is caused by external factors like prejudice or a lack of opportunity; we therefore fight to eliminate those barriers.” For instance, she writes, when she can’t access certain spaces, “it isn’t my disability that limits me, but that those around me have made a decision to construct buildings that don’t accommodate everyone.”

Speaking with the Post, Landre pointed out other systemic barriers that complicate disabled students’ college experiences. She says she had to fight her insurer to keep her aide services after earning $14 an hour at an internship last summer—and subsequently heard from others across the country balancing the desire to work with the need to retain their aides. “The assumption is, if you’re disabled, you’re not going to work, and if you’re working, you’re not disabled,” Landre told the Post.

Landre hopes her advocacy will lead others to “view disability as a normal part of human diversity,” adding that “we cannot pretend to pursue a just and equal society if we continue to leave the largest minority behind.”

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