Disability is a huge part of society and the best way to engage with it is to read up and educate ourselves on what it truly means. Here are 8 book recommendations to start off with.

Diving into the world of books is every bibliophile’s favourite hobby. It is astonishing how a handful of pages can make us feel so many things! And what’s more, they can also help us learn a host of new things to become a better person. 

Disability is a natural part of human diversity. However, seldom are we taught about how to support people with disabilities or use assistive aids. Much of this is because we have little or no exposure to disability — either directly or indirectly. 

Hence, here are a few book recommendations that can help you become more disability-aware!

  1. The Invisible Majority: India’s Abled Disabled by C K Meena and V R Ferose

“This is a book about disability. Which means this is a book about all of us,” reads the opening line of the book. When his son was diagnosed with autism in 2010, V R Ferose looked through every resource available on disability — articles, books, blogs, etc. While there was no dearth of information available, it was of little help for a parent coming to terms with the diagnosis of their child’s disability. 

Hence, taking the baton in his own hands and finding a co-author with as much zeal and enthusiasm, V R Ferose and C K Meena set out to pen a non-academic book on disability in India that covers everything from policy framework, social attitudes, employment to healthcare, education, and independent living.

  1. Priya’s Mirror by Paromita Vohra and Ram Devineni

This paperback is an illustrated comic narrating the story of Priya, an acid attack survivor who forms an alliance with a group of women with similar experiences and helps them fight off Ahankar, the demon king. Illustrated by celebrated comic creator, Dan Goldman, the book portrays the intersection of gender and disability. 

Priya’s Mirror is a sequel to Priya’s Shakti, in which Priya, a survivor of sexual abuse, galvanises women with similar ordeals. According to Devineni, one of the creators of the comic, “The problem of sexual violence is not a legal issue but a cultural problem.” This book helps evoke empathy and directs the gaze to the social lacunae instead of the victim or survivor. 

  1. This Kind of Child: The Disability Story by K. Srilata

“When I started working on the book, my daughter was the protagonist of the story. But as I dealt with the situation, I realised that I could not stop with just my story. That was when I began speaking to other people with disabilities and their caregivers,” K Srilata tells SheThePeople

‘This Kind of Child’ is a compilation of seven mini books, each covering a different perspective on disability. Through stories, both fiction and non-fiction, interviews and case studies, the book attempts to attune the readers with a range of challenges experienced by individuals with disabilities, their parents, siblings, and even caregivers. Through this book, Srilata tries to tell her readers that disability is a part of human experience and we have no choice but to engage with it. 

  1. Disfigured: On Fairy Tales, Disability, and Making Space by Amanda Leduc  

What is the link between fairy tales and disability? Wearing the cape of a critic, Amanda Leduc looks at fairy tales and analyses how they play a role in influencing society’s perspectives towards people with disabilities. Leduc establishes that villains in fairy tales have been seen to possess certain deformities — a deformed limb or a blind eye — which then go on to reinforce stereotypes that people with disabilities are bad and evil. 

This book, while telling us a story, helps us to reimagine them in a way that no section of society is represented in a bad light! Amanda also, in a beautiful way, conveys to her readers that fairytales are exactly what they mean – a figment of the mind and in no way represent real people.

  1. Demystifying Disability by Emily Ladau

Don’t we all struggle to find the answers to the questions around disability? Guess, the author of this book just got into our heads and solved the mystery for one and for all! Penned by globally acclaimed disability rights activist Emily Ladau, this book takes a pretty practical approach to understanding the nitty gritties of the world’s largest minority, thereby inching closer to an inclusive world.

This book covers a lot of important issues like appropriate etiquettes, how to have an informed conversation about disability, how to make accessibility a standard practice and so on. This makes this book the perfect way for someone to begin learning about disability and appreciate and acknowledge the identity.

  1. True Biz by Sara Nović

Set in a residential high school for Deaf students, True Biz is a fast-paced novel that follows the lives of the students and provides the readers a look inside the Deaf Culture. It touches on a lot of important topics like growing up Deaf in a hearing world, the fight for civil rights by the Deaf Community, as well as more coming of age topics like family connections, romance, and friendship.

Written by Sign Language User and Deaf Activist Sara Nović, this book is a great example of the community coming forward to tell its own stories.

  1. Swimming Against the Tide by Madhavi Latha Prathigudupu

A memoir by Indian parasports champion Madhavi Latha, this book traces her personal journey of becoming a para swimming champion at the age of 40. A story of how above all, having faith in one’s own capabilities is a sure shot way to success, this book is a must read for anyone who is out on a new journey and feeling a little lost.

The book also touches upon the important role that a solid support system plays in the road to success. Prathigudupu’s parents and friends play an important role in her story and continue to be a source of motivation and inspiration for her.

  1. All the light we cannot see by Anthony Doerr

This book traces the story of a blind French girl and a young German Soldier whose paths cross during World War II. The book is a must read for history lovers as it shows us the reality of the World War through unique perspectives that have never been explored before.

This book has also been turned into a Netflix series which was well received, making this a great choice for 2024’s reading list!

As the year unfurls, this is a great time to renew our wish lists and add some paperbacks that will indeed be our best friends! Disability is something that affects all of us – directly or indirectly. Let these books bridge the gap between the two and help you become more inclusive and empathetic to the unseen realities of people with disabilities! 

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Written by V-shesh; Edited by Padmashree Pande.

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