Your Thoughts are Cordially Invited…

Posted on November 30, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

    The other day a friend asked me what I thought were the ten biggest problems faced by people with disabilities. It impressed me because that question is not asked nearly often enough. I do have to say that this question posed a dilemma for me. First of all, I don’t feel qualified to answer this question for anybody but myself. Secondly, and most importantly, I don’t like to talk about myself which makes this blog quite difficult for me.

    People with disabilities comprise an extremely large and diverse community. There are people with impairments in hearing, vision or mobility and there are those recovering from some sort of accident such as spinal cord injuries, amputations, post traumatic stress disorder, mental illness and emotional stresses. The diversity of need in this community cannot be overstated. Additionally, each person has their own attitude towards their disablement and how, or if, they want to move forward.

    In my case, I have never been able to walk and I’ve always suffered from respiratory problems. It has always been my experience that I see the world and do things differently than a person who has been paralyzed after suffering a spinal cord injury. I have always felt a responsibility to answer questions and satisfy other’s curiosity whenever the occasion presents itself. However, I am still reluctant to answer questions that reflect anything other than my personal opinion.

    Eventually I responded to my friend’s email with the following list:

    1. People with disabilities suffer from a largely unrecognized and insidious level of prejudice
    2. Public policy relegates people with disabilities to a life of poverty, rather than enabling their productive capacity
    3. The Americans with Disabilities Act has failed people with disabilities and needs to be dismantled and rebuilt reflecting modern life
    4. People with disabilities need to have full and equal access to:  (a) buildings, (b) education, (c) opportunity, (d) satisfying, economic productivity and (5) control of personal healthcare choices
    5. Healthcare policy needs to be updated to encompass the technological advances that preclude institutionalization for chronic diagnoses
    6. The diversity of the disability community must be acknowledge and addressed
    7. Social integration through universal design must be a part of any social policy

    This is not an exhaustive list and I know it is incomplete. Please let me know what you think and add to this list.


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    4 Responses to “Your Thoughts are Cordially Invited…”

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    Thank you Keith for speaking out for many people! You are an inspiration

    Wow, what a list. Some of the items, especially 4 and 6, I could have anticipated. But I am startled by the suggestion to dismantle the ADA. As an advocate for technology access, often the way people finally understand accessibility is to say with dawning realization, “Oh, it’s like ADA for the Internet.” Despite the fact that the courts have not determined explicitly – although they are inching up to it – that the ADA applies to the Internet, it is that association that allows some people to understand what universal design means for technology platforms.

    So why dismantle rather than broaden the law?

    I am concerned that the ADA is so flawed that it needs to scrapped and stronger measures enacted. As cultural shorthand, the ADA has made an impact, as in your noted example. However, legally it has been watered down and is difficult to enforce. I would be happy to have the law strengthened, but I think that it’s probably better to scrap it and create a stronger law more reflective of the opportunities of modern life.

    I firmly believe we need more people with “disabilities” serve on committees and commissions that make recommendations to Councils, County Commissions and Legislatures on ALL levels of Governments, City, County, State and Federal. It’s important that we have better public policies for these issues, who better can relate to the issues…

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