Monday, May 01, 2006

Blog Against Disablism Day

Today is Blog Against Disablism Day. I would like to begin by officially blogging against the word "disablism," and while I'm at it--since I didn't get around to at the right time--blogging against the word "heteronormativity." And especially against the word "heteronormativity."

Now that I have that out of the way, I do have some things to say about the way people with disabilities are treated in this culture:

People with disabilities are not stupid. If you are a waiter, do not ask the person accompanying the disabled person what that person would like to order. (I once visited the Statue of Liberty with a friend who is blind. When we went through the security routine, the woman in charge treated my friend as though she were five years old, and kept giving me the instructions so that I could "explain" them to her. We wrote angry letters to the statue authority staff, and I hope they did some good.)

If you are a business owner, stop cursing the government for making you modify your physical structure to accommodate the physically disabled. You may be one of the physically disabled some day, and you will still want to shop, dine out, and do your banking. (I once had a man tell me that he thought it was wrong to tell anyone to change a structure to accommodate the handicapped, and even if the handicapped were his own father, he would not change his mind; I resisted the temptation to explain that he was the handicapped.)

If you are a gynecologist, you need to know that women with disabilities need exams, too. Thousands of physically disabled women are unable to get gynecological exams and Pap tests because doctors and nurses cannot "fit" them on the exam table.

Remember that not all disabilities are physical. There are cognitive and other mental disabilities as well.

Yes, seeing people in wheelchairs and people who do not walk as straight as you and people who are blind makes us uncomfortable because we know they could just as well be we, but it is not an excuse to not make eye contact if making eye contact is appropriate in the context of meeting.

The irony about our attitude toward people with disabilities is that these citizens already have far more problems than any of us can imagine, and so our culture makes it even harder for them by obstructing them at every turn and treating them as though they were children.


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