By Elyse Pitkin
“Disabled people are everywhere,” said Michelle R. Nario-Redmond, Hiram professor of psychology and biomedical humanities. She has been with the College for 15 years, is a first-generation Latina and is a Social Psychologist with specialties in Stereotyping and Prejudice, Disability Studies and Diversity, Equity, Access and Inclusion. Recently, Nario-Redmond was a guest speaker on the national podcast, “WorkLife with Adam Grant” on the episode, “It’s Time to Stop Ignoring Disability.”
Grant had found Nario-Redmond because of her book titled, “Ableism: The Causes and Consequences of Disability Prejudice” published in 2019. Her book is one of the “first to integrate the evolutionary, ideological, and intergroup origins of ableism including hostile and benevolent forms that drive fears, curiosities, and even good intentions that perpetuate inequality.”
The message of the podcast is to recognize the pervasiveness of disability and illness that may often be temporary and are often fluid for individuals. Nario-Redmond believes they can “almost always be contingent upon the environment, policies, and practices currently in place but not immutable.” She furthered by stating that, “we have a legacy of celebrating diverse perspectives and cultures here at Hiram but can all do more to mitigate the often unintended attitudinal and policy barriers that disadvantage some while privileging others. I encourage colleagues to reach out and hope to help facilitate more professional development in this regard as well.”
It is important to Nario-Redmond to discuss disability and she is inspired to help bring awareness to those on Hiram campus and beyond. “One in five Americans experiences at least one form of physical, psychological, cognitive, or sensory disability. At Hiram College, based on our most recent 2021 data from the Higher Education Data Sharing Consortium, 65.2% of our sample of students, faculty and staff indicated that they experienced at least one of the 10 distinct conditions we assessed including: anxiety/depression (51% of the sample), Asperger’s/ASD, ADD/ADHD, brain injury, chronic mental illness (not including anxiety, depression), hearing, physical, learning, speech/language disabilities or other impairments,” said Nario-Redmond.
To put this into perspective, only 27.8% of the Hiram community indicated that they did not currently experience any of these conditions.
“It is our obligation to recognize who is here and who we are serving to maximize success,” said Nario-Redmond. “Many of our faculty/staff are passionate about ensuring that we include all members of the Hiram College community not only academically but in our co-curriculars as well.”
On campus, Nario-Redmond teaches a freshman urgent challenges seminar called: Who is normal: Freak, Gimp, Crazy, Crip; Stereotyping and Prejudice, and Gimpy Geezers: Ageism and Ableism with Dr. Hailee Yoshizaki-Gibbons. She also works to “infuse the variability of the human experience and the perspectives of those on the margins”, in all of her classes.
To learn more about Nario-Redmond’s first book, read here. You can also listen to the full podcast with Dr. Nario-Redmond and Adam Grant here.