Public address scholars trained in U.S. communication departments have tended not to study rhetoric created by people with disabilities as much as they do other social movements. Here I attribute this relative lack to two ableist assumptions associated with communication’s emphasis on winning arguments: the presumed disqualification of people with disabilities from public argument itself and the normalization of this disqualification based on biases related to rhetorical performance and capability. Overall, I argue this disqualification is the product of how communication scholars have understood and reconstructed the role of the ideal arguer in public affairs and call for more expansive views.

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