DISABILITY

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Garner, who was born with muscular dystrophy, has plenty of direct experience with adapting to a world that’s often ill-equipped to deal with disability and heedless of the hurdles involved. “The very nature of adapting to a relatively inaccessible world,” the author writes, “means we simply figure everything out for ourselves”—and with the aid of a group of people she refers to as “Partners in Policymaking” who might help along the way. She provides disabled readers (a large part of her obvious target audience) with checklists of things they’ll encounter, including how to handle tough interview questions and how to assess the efficiency of various federally funded programs for assistance. She points out many aspects of reality for disabled people, from the positive (the emergence of online professions and side hustles that present no obstacles) to the negative (the effect mental stress can have on all facets of life). Throughout her narrative, she fervently stresses the importance of creating a support network of people to help with various challenges. Those trials are at the heart of one of her main points: that being disabled is a constant struggle—for recognition, acceptance, and an even playing field. Skillfully using her own life story as a basic ingredient for her broader concerns, Garner employs clear, passionate prose in order to underscore a message of hope and encouragement. “You have things to contribute,” she writes. “You are knowledgeable, and you can share your talents with others.” She’s empathetic and mindful throughout, touching on a refreshingly wide variety of aspects of the disabled experience. Her combination of optimism and pragmatism makes this a bright spot in the category of manuals for the disabled.

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