The Impact of Government on Quality of Life for People with Disabilities in the United States and Guatemala
Neoliberal governments value citizens by their economic worth. Accordingly, the stigma that people with disabilities are deficient relegates them to roles of inadequate market players and removes from the public agenda. Thus, disability policy goals worldwide continue to remain unmet. Two very different, yet neoliberal countries, the United States and Guatemala, were chosen as case studies to determine how social construction of disability impacts policy implementation in both countries. In the absence of research and data in Guatemala, interviews were conducted. Key findings revealed that though these countries were vastly different in wealth, they exhibited similar responses with limited enforcement of disability laws and increased reliance on nongovernmental entities to implement policies. Further, the “deficient” social construction of people with disabilities was found to play a pivotal role in determining the how policies were implemented, thereby shaping what rights were protected in either country and ultimately impeding quality of life.
KeywordsPolicy Implementation American Community Survey Political Representation Enforcement Mechanism Disability Policy
I wish to express my gratitude to the NAPA-OT field school and Dr. Gelya Frank, Dr. Peggy Perkinson, and Dr. Devva Kasnitz for offering this tremendous research opportunity in Guatemala and to my Guatemalan friends who have provided me with valuable data, support and patience. I also wish to thank my professor Dr. Thomas Catlaw for offering much needed encouragement and financial support. Special thanks also to my graduate friends, Kandyce Fernandez, Joe West, Tanya Watt, Matt Heil, Youngjae Kim, Dan Wang, and Jing Wang, and Dr. Nicole Darnall for assisting in revising this manuscript, and to Samantha Santaella-Wolfe for translating. Last, but not least, I would like to express my gratitude to the love of my life, Garrick McFadden, for putting up with me through painstaking hours of writing and revisions.
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