Covid-19 health surveillance has created a profound and rapid shift in who is disabled in society. This international study will interrogate how Covid-19 health surveillance has disrupted the line between the able and disabled to understand the impact of regulatory interventions, and responses to exclusion and disablement. The disability civil rights struggle and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 built upon a long history of segregation and oppression, with the line between able and disable always shifting slowly. Covid-19 health surveillance has changed this and caused a rapid paradigm shift in how existing disabilities are restricted in public spaces. The result is that many people who have not previously identified as having a disability now experience disablementy. What was a minor health condition is now a major barrier to entering public spaces, education, and work. Covid-19 health surveillance has unsettled ability norms, for example:
- A person with a pre-existing persistent dry cough may confront greater barriers in entering many public spaces now than a person who uses crutches.
- A person who has high blood pressure and thus a consistent high temperature may confront greater barriers to using public transport than a person who is profoundly deaf.
- A person with a respiratory condition, who previously had minor inconveniences, may find their inability to attend work more disabling than a person in a wheelchair.
This project will illuminate the experiences of historically marginalized people, and illustrate how groups not historically marginalized are now likely to experience disablement.
Associate Professor, University of Queensland Law School