The Convergence of Disability Law and Policy: Core Concepts, Ethical Communities, and the Notion of Dignity>
Interview with Rud Turnbull
Produced by Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities
The ADA: The Human Condition in a Policy Context
Rud Turnbull: It is because ADA set a framework within which I could effectively study on a broad basis what I am going to call the human condition in a policy context. And that kind of studying about the human condition, namely, disability, in the policy context is, I think, one of the reasons that ADA is so important. Yes, it's a civil rights bill. But, yes, it does more than that. It opens up for scholarship and for advocacy, opportunities to engage with difference. It opens up opportunities for people generally to engage with difference when they had not engaged with difference in the past. The difference being, of course, developmental disability or any other kind of a disability.
More than that, and this is where I've had a little bit of a theme, it creates the opportunity for what Ann Turnbull and I call the "enviable life." We've used that phrase many times in our teaching and in our writing. How do you create the "enviable life" for a person with a disability? And some people will quarrel with the idea of an enviable life. I think it's a tight way of saying quality of life. It's the kind of a life that a person without a disability would want to have for herself or himself, and if that's good enough for a person without a disability, why should it not be also the life that a person with a disability should be able to have with support?
So, for me, ADA then opened up this whole issue of enviable life, quality of life, and how do we go about creating it through public policy and through informal support systems? And, finally, I look at ADA not just as a civil rights law but as a law that challenges us culturally, ethically, and technologically to respond to difference. Culturally, it's about our social norms. Ethically, it's about what's the right to do. And technologically, it is how do we go about doing what is right in order to change society and use the law for those purposes. I've had some little bit to do with ADA and more to do, however, with education.