“When I read stories about disability scams [such as the recent Disney debacle] I shrug. The outrage expressed puzzles me. I have had my civil rights violated in a myriad of ways. For instance, I have been refused entry to restaurants in New York City; no wheelchairs I am told. I have had many a taxi pass me by to pick up a bipedal customer. I have had bus drivers lie to me and say the lift is not working or that they do not know how to use it. I have had rental companies assure me a car with hand controls is available only to find out the car is "lost" in transit. When such incidents take place non disabled people look away. I cannot recall anyone ever coming to my defense when I suffered gross inequities at let's say an airport. I cannot recall a single person that expressed outrage when I was being denigrated by someone who clearly held power. Hence, I shrug about Disney and the angst expressed. It is misplaced emotion. I wonder where are these people when the school board decides not to put a lift on a bus? Where are these people when the special education budget is cut? Where are these people when Mayor Bloomberg selected an inaccessible taxi of tomorrow? Where are these people when technology for people with a vision impairment is deemed too costly? Where are these people when a new facility is constructed but does not meet ADA requirements? Where are these people? Nowhere to be found and silent.”—
… In addition to a stunning level of ignorance about disability in general, I have an additional concern. As noted in my previous post about the Disney is the emergence of able bodied outrage. Here I refer to a multitude of stories that question what I would classify as a reasonable accommodation for people with a disability. The most well known story about what a treat it is to have a disability pertains to airport security lines. More often than not, people with a disability do not wait on line. We are shuttled off to a different and shorter line. This is a reasonable accommodation and mitigates a multitude of different disabilities. People see this and think oh man you are so lucky. Well I do not feel lucky when I am the very first person on the plane and the very last person off the plane. I do not feel lucky when my wheelchair comes back from the belly of the plane and is damaged. I do not feel lucky when a supposedly trained person asks me to “walk just a little bit”. This too is a reasonable accommodation one I find decidedly unreasonable
At issue for me is how do we raise the level of understanding. How do we get all people to think disability rights and civil rights are one in the same? Disability studies has been ineffectual. The disability rights movement has stagnated in recent years. ADAPT demonstrations are utterly ignored by the press. So how do we educate and make the bipedal masses see disability for what it really is? I have no clue. And that is problem number one.