7/18/2017

Tuning in on disability history

by Pieter Verstraete, KU Leuven

We all produce sounds and we all are surrounded by sounds. Whether we now have a disability or not, sound, one could say, is among the many things that are capable of uniting us. That is of course not to say that sounds cannot be used in order to divide humanity. On the contrary. Despites its potential to bring people together, sound also is very much implied in a multitude of processes, strategies and tactics that intentionally as well as unintentionally divide people.1

The way sound plays a constitutive role in the way disabled and non-disabled persons relate to one another is made painfully clear by disability activist Amanda Baggs in her ground-breaking YouTube video In my language. Baggs’ video not only clearly illustrates the segregative power of sound – in particular human language – but also points towards possible ways of altering our habitual way of listening to and producing sound.

Amanda Bagg’s 2007 movie In my language already has attracted 1.441.103 views on YouTube