Article Feature: Writing Disability Memoirs

by | Jun 1, 2021 | Featured Article | 0 comments

Disability Memoirs allow us a better understanding of the lives of people with disabilities. More importantly, they are a great source of inspiration for both everyday people and those with special needs.

Disability memoirs are biographies of people with disabilities and special needs, written by family members, friends, and themselves. Their stories highlight their unique situation, be it physical, cognitive, or learning disabilities, the struggles they encounter, and how they overcame these adversities to live an extraordinary and inspiring life. There are many memoirs published over the years; some are written by persons with disabilities themselves, such as Thinking in Pictures by Temple Grandin (autistic), The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by French journalist Jean-Dominique Bauby (locked-in syndrome), and Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger’s by John Elder Robison. There are also memoirs written by family members and friends. One example is Beyond Barriers by Anne Davey Koomans, the wife of the late David Davey, a polio victim. He dedicated his life to serving others and empowering people with disabilities. David’s extraordinary journey on Koomans’ book is one of the most inspiring narratives published these past few years.

Disability Memoirs: Stories of Struggle and Inspiration

Writing a disability memoir, especially an autobiography, is a significant achievement for the author and the target audience. It is one of the most remarkable, if not the most outstanding, forms of disability narrative. Persons with disabilities are marginalized sectors of society. They are often victims of outside examination and classification. Being able to write, express, and publish their life stories is rewarding. Their stories are as important. Many of these autobiographies hope to destigmatize their conditions. They provide an actual picture representative of others who share their physical, mental, and emotional state. Through their biographies and memoirs, we can understand their situation, limitations, struggles, and aspirations. More importantly, these stories present to us their strengths and incredible journey in life. Overcoming disability and being able to live a life of acceptance and contentment always provide great inspiration. It is the trademark of disability memoirs and autobiographies. Sharing one’s life of disability and telling others that they can still be part of society and live a meaningful life is a quintessential message that every disability memoir or autobiography bears. 

Writing Disability Memoirs is Giving Voices to Others

Writing disability memoirs and autobiographies are not simply sharing one’s personal journey and triumphs. While each life experience is unique, persons with disabilities share several collective realities- a chance at a ‘normal life, missed opportunities, daily challenges, emotional stresses, discrimination, and of course, bullying. They also share values, weaknesses, outlooks, and the will to better their lives and be more than just what or society treats them. By writing these memoirs and biographies about people with special circumstances and needs, the author (whether disabled or not) is lending a voice to the rest of the marginalized sector, the PWD (persons with disabilities) community. In theUnited States, there are 9.7 million people with long-lasting conditions or disability, according to a 2000 census. Anne Davey Koomans’ Beyond Barriers, which features her husband’s exemplary life is a perfect example of paying tribute and giving voice to people with disabilities. While he was still alive, David Davey did not allow his condition to prevent him from getting an education, getting a job, and tirelessly working to promote the rights and welfare of people with disabilities. He has worked with the late Senator Bob Dole on the National Barrier-Free Architectural and Transportation Board. Dave was also crucial in the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. He was inducted into the Goodwill Hall of Fame. And all of these are detailed in Anne Davey Koomans’ memoir of her husband. Hopefully, Beyond Barriers will continue to inspire not only people with disabilities but also everyday people to live with passion and integrity.

To know more about Anne Davey Koomans and her work, you can buy a copy of the book or visit her website today.


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