The minority group anyone can join

Lest we think the disabled minority is something that can be ignored, I submit to you that it’s a very important concern for everyone. Those who aren’t currently disabled are only one accident or illness away from joining those of us who are. Or one child away from it being our concern. This is something everyone should be paying attention to, but it rarely makes the press. Why?

Because people don’t like to think about it. They see someone in a wheelchair or a blind person and they look the other way – their minds carefully whitewashing their thoughts so that they don’t consider what that kind of life might be like. It’s human nature, rather than any conscious effort on the part of the individual. If we thought about all the bad things that could possibly happen we’d go insane. The problem is some people NEVER think about it. Until it touches their lives in some way. And with the growing senior population, the issue is bound to get bigger.

Everyone having a new baby has a greater than one percent chance of having a child with autism. And if that baby is a boy, you can about double the odds. It’s almost certain that someone you know is dealing with autism, whether it’s themselves or a family member, or even a friend your child brings home from school. And that’s just one disability.

I read that people fear blindness more than death. From my perspective that’s crazy. Despite his blindness, my dad led a full, rich life and touched many others in return. I’ve seen how blindness is no more difficult than being in a wheelchair. But because he was also a double amputee (both legs below the knee due to poor circulation from his diabetes), he spent plenty of time in a wheelchair as well. And I can tell you it’s no great shakes, even now.

Years after the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed, you’ll still see places with only stair access, or checkout lanes too narrow for a wheelchair to fit through. When these things are changed and a ramp is added or a check-stand removed to provide more access for the rest, people roll their eyes. Like it’s ruining things for the rest of us. Being a history buff, I can sympathize with the sentiment, I hate seeing things changed. But if they don’t change, it’s not just the currently disabled who lose out. It could be you tomorrow.

It’s easy for the fully-abled community to see the disabled as a burden and seek to give them as little as possible to keep money for ourselves. Until you’re diagnosed with cancer or MS or you get hit by a semi car carrier. Then it becomes your problem and you’ll have the same difficulty being heard as the rest of the disabled.

What’s my point? It’s that you should think long and hard about shortchanging a minority you might someday join. Or one someone you love might join. The disabled depend on services, not because they’re somehow morally deficient, but because they legitimately need help. And they are forced to rely on those who are able-bodied to make sure they have what they need. Please don’t create a situation today that you’ll suffer from tomorrow.

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