There is a remarkably broad range of human variation and experience that in this historical moment, in this time and place, we call disability. One of the abiding insights of disability culture is the recognition that the condition of disability is socially constructed: it is the product not of anatomy or physiology but of social transaction based not on nature but on a peculiar value system for deciding which lives have value — and which don't. This insight has become a generally accepted article of belief for disability studies, though the degree to which the insight has penetrated the larger social structure is modest at best.

Bodies are undeniable, though Western civilization has sought to discipline if not deny bodies through much of its history. This is, of course, counterintuitive, since bodies are our first and most important ways of knowing ourselves and the world around us. And we know our bodies in, and through, time. The four papers in this special set consider lived experiences of disability by engaging with the dimension of time. Disability is never experienced directly, these four essays argue; instead, it is always mediated, and one crucial mediation is time.

Rod Michalko contends that there is no direct experience of blindness, for one cannot experience blindness apart from the cultural representations of what it means to be blind — and to be sighted. He offers a critique of "culture standard time" and suggests the outlines of another possible temporal milieu around disability, "cool blindness time." Eliza Chandler considers the importance of narrative for truly claiming lived experience of disability. She explores the relationship of disability pride and shame, and seeks to articulate a pride consciousness even in the times of fatigue, frustration, and pain. Isaac Stein uses his experience of breaking his thumb to consider "impairment legitimacy" and the difference between passing and masquerade, describing how the culturally ingrained trope of "broken bone" temporarily serves to normalize his disabled body. Finally, Tanya Titchkosky examines bureaucratic practice around disability access in light of Ontario's recent accessibility regulations. Disability, she finds, is only really included in the equal-access debate as something which is not yet ready for inclusion.

How the social processes that create disability work, where they come from, and how they continue to impact the lives of disabled and nondisabled people alike — these are vital and complex questions. Attention to lived disability experience is vital to illuminate cultural beliefs and social practices that only show themselves clearly when disabled bodies bump up against them. These four papers, based on a 2009 Society for Disability Studies panel, shine a little more needed and timely light, and I am grateful for them.

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