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The high cost of living in a disabling world

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The high cost of living in a disabling world

For all the advances that have been made in recent decades, disabled people cannot yet participate in society ‘on an equal basis’ with others – and the pandemic has led to many protections being cruelly eroded

The Guardian,

5 min read
3 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Equal rights for disabled people does not guarantee them functional equality. 

Editorial Rating



  • Eye Opening
  • Well Structured
  • Concrete Examples


Norwegian professor Jan Grue’s thoughtful, thought-provoking essay in The Guardian offers insight into his wheelchair-bound life. Becoming disabled can be like entering a different world. Formerly easy actions become difficult or impossible. Those with disabilities, living or working with a disabled person, advocating fair treatment for the disabled or accepting the risk of future disability will benefit from Grue’s frank, illuminating account.


The rhetoric of non-discrimination and equal rights for the disabled does not address the unseen discrimination and inequality of invisible work.

A series of international conventions, mandates and legislation from the 1980s forward seemed to promise victory in seeking rights for disabled people. However, society must also address inequalities in life itself. For example, entering a gate designed to keep children in their kindergarten yard proves no obstacle to non-disabled adults, but it poses a genuine challenge to wheelchair-bound author Jan Grue. When he takes his son to kindergarten, he must wrestle with a gate he cannot open without great effort and even personal risk. 

Other parents might offer assistance without Grue asking, but others will not help unless he makes a direct request. Some believe that not volunteering to help is more considerate than offering a hand, because they want to signal to ...

About the Author

The Guardian contributor Jan Grue is a professor at the University of Oslo.

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