Why are you pretending to be normal? Book Review by Roger Berry

As Chris, the narrator in this book, points out: “The absolute fact is that most of us are born without impairments but the majority of us will acquire one before we depart this life.” There are many reasons why disability – and the discrimination associated with it – should be a mainstream issue, and this is clearly one of them.

Yet, you only have to read, view or listen to much of the popular media to realise how badly informed so many people are about disability issues. Too many commentators and politicians simply don’t get it.

They – and many others – would benefit enormously from reading this wonderful book, by Phil Friend and Dave Rees. It’s a must-read for those who are prepared to listen and learn.

Why are you pretending to be normal? takes us back to basics. In effect, it explains the social model of disability and its practical implications for both disabled and non-disabled people. It does this through a series of conversations between Chris, who has recently acquired an impairment and other disabled people, from whom he learns a lot.

There are revealing discussions of attitudes, physical barriers, additional needs, rights and the fact that being different is normal.

The most difficult kind of writing is that which is aimed at a very wide audience, but nevertheless has something significant to say to all its readers. This book is in that category. There is much here to enlighten those unfamiliar with the social model of disability. But there will be many who believe that they have a reasonable understanding of the argument who will still find that there is much to learn from this short book.

It is written for disabled and non-disabled people, because disability is, indeed, a mainstream issue. If I had control of the national curriculum, I would make this required reading.

Roger Berry

Author: PhilFriend

Dr Phil Friend (OBE FRSA) himself a wheelchair user, is acknowledged as the UK's foremost consultant on disability matters. A powerful and highly popular communicator, his company – Phil & Friends – provides consultancy to many of the country's best-known companies. In addition to his professional activities, he is also a respected champion for equal opportunities and diversity in general, where his special blend of humour and direct speaking has won admirers from around the world.

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