Archive for the ‘human rights’ Category
So did you hear the one about the woman in the wheelchair in the crowd at the paralympics. Its not a joke. She was told she could not sit with her family. Apparently the people in charge are planning the event did not plan for disabled people sitting with walkies? Click here to read the entire story. I don’t even want to get into it. It just defies logic, and I don’t do well with that.
I blogged about Oscar Pistorius’ bid to enter the Olympics (not the Paralympics) in 2008. If you don’t know who I am talking about he is a runner who has both lower legs amputated but has been fitted with a pair of “blades” which have been found to mimic a set of human feet in such a way that they do not give him an unfair advantage. This was not the case in 2008 if I remember correctly, but anyway, he was in for 2012. I did not even know about it until the Olympics already started this year. Anyway, I have not been able to muster up the level of interest it takes for me to blog about a subject even though it is admittedly a big turn of events. Now that the Olympics are almost over, I can say, well done, Oscar. It is progress. It muddies the waters between the land of the able and the land of the horrible, mangled creatures they call “disabled.”. So I am happy about that. I just don’t care too much. Come to think of it, I don’t really care that the Paralympics are starting, and I think I mentioned why, in 2008. There are categories that allow pretty much anyone to get into the Paralympics as long as you have a chipped tooth or got your foot run over by a bicycle when you were six or something. Seriously the categories are quite inclusive. Look it up. The Paralympics, it seems, are less specialized than the Olympics. So it is quite exclusive company Pistorius was in when he made it into the Olympics this year.
Hmm..maybe it really was a bigger deal than I thought. See that is what blogging does for me. It allows me to take an issue, and talk it out until I’ve come full circle, back where, I started, but with a new outlook.
Now that I have stated my demand, clearly and concisely, I’d like to note that once again in 2012 the Paralympics follows close on the heels of the Olympics. Once again it has been relegated to a Youtube channel, various other online live feeds, etc, while the Olympics (the Walkie version) is again a world-wide network TV 24-hour a day, weeks-long extravaganza. It’s probably on TV right now. Let me go check………….Yup. It is. Water polo.
Eighteen percent of the U.S. population has some form of disability. That statistic throughout the world is comparable. Everybody knows someone who has some kind of disability that would be represented by athletes in the Paralympic Games. Why is this not on NBC? Do we need a specific TV network just for disability-oriented programming much like African-Americans did with the BET network?
Come on, NBC, it’s 18% of the population! Think of the ratings! Even if just out of curiosity, huge numbers of people would be tuning in to see this. Think of the new ad revenue you would generate from a wide variety of sponsors.
And lastly, you would be providing a service. Network exposure for Paralympic athletes would show the world at large a new side to disability. For one thing, it would demonstrate how many disabilities are not visible, yet very real for the person living with that disability. And it would help able-bodied people become more knowledgeable about a wide array of different types of disabilities. This can only be a win-win situation. The Olympics this year got Paul McCartney to play the opening ceremony. I say we get John Mellencamp to play the 2016 Paralympics on NBC. He’s got spina bifida. See, a disability that is not visible. You’re learning something already.
If you agree, please pass this on.
As Memorial Day comes and passes again tomorrow, I know I will be hearing a lot of slogans and speeches about supporting our troops. And I whole-heartedly agree. But I get the feeling that a lot of times holidays such as Memorial Day are days meant for sentimentality and not much else. Sure it is a day of remembrance for the fallen. But what about remembering those who gave and lived to tell about it? I know the term “memorial” suggests those who have passed, but it also suggests “remembering.”
We can remember what our troops gave by helping those who came back with disabilities a chance to remain a vital part of our society. There are a lot of programs like Veterans Employment at VA.gov, or militaryvetjobs.com or Veterans Employment and Training Service (VETS) that are dedicated to helping our soldiers come home with, literally, something to come home to. A job. A purpose. Income. Hope. Please support these and organizations like them.
I know that many are concerned that this is an extension of “Affirmative Action”. I am not a veteran but I am disabled. And I have struggled with obtaining employment in the past. I have said before that I don’t want to get a job just because I am disabled. I want to be qualified. But remember the military qualifies soldiers in a vast array of areas of potential employment. They may come home disoriented by the struggle to cope with their new bodily circumstances, shall we say, but they have been trained to be successful in whatever they do.
Supporting veterans in their search for employment upon arrival back home may be the most patriotic thing one can do.
1. It supports the newly returned soldier.
2. It helps to keep our economy running by keeping jobs filled.
3. It keeps the deficit from rising when injured soldiers come home to a disability check.
4. And, often overlooked, think of how morale will rise among troops who are still on duty overseas, when word gets around that a movement has begun back home, that they don’t have to worry about how they would support their family should they become injured in the line of duty.
Before I tell this story, I think that though it probably goes without saying, it would be prudent of me to note that not everybody with a disability has a sense of humor about it. So if you are a walkie and you know someone disabled, my advice would be just to really know your friend, don’t go thinking that anything goes. I’ve already told you about some of the things I personally don’t like, on this blog.
At work I sit next to a guy who I have only known for about a month but we’ve gotten to know each other well, and he is already well aware that I don’t really have boundaries when it comes to jokes about my disability. Or so he thought!
He’d made some jokes throughout the night about it tonight, and I joked back. At the end of the night as we were leaving, he made another crack, and in a moment of inspiration, I turned to him and I said “that’s not funny.”
He said “It isn’t?”, still smiling at his cleverness, and assuming I was joking.
I said “No. I mean I have a sense of humor, but come on, grow up.”
His face went dark, and he said “Seriously?” I said “Yes, seriously.”
“I’m sorry, bad joke,” he said, trying desperately to back-track. ” Did I cross the line?”
Now, I don’t consider myself a cruel person. As such, I could only let this go on for so long. I cracked. And so did he.
“I can’t believe I fell for that!” he groaned. I assured him that I didn’t think he really believed me anyway, because I’d already made it so clear that nothing was sacred when it came to the disability. And the way he’d said “Seriously”, he looked like he thought he’d just been zapped into another dimension.
Anyway, I love it when my night at work ends on a high note like that.
Living in the material world, businesses often will not make the necessary changes to make their establishment wheelchair-friendly unless it becomes obvious to the owner that not doing so would mean loss of revenue. Often times it seems that up-front cost of renovations are the foremost concern. Often the prospects of a burgeoning clientele base – namely the disabled community – is not taken into consideration.
But this is not just an American problem. In Britain, the Equality Act 2010 appears to cover the same ground, roughly, as the Americans with Disabilities Act. London, dwelling place of 1.4 million disabled people and destination to large numbers of tourists every year, does not appear to be exempt from the problem of accessibility. British people with disabilities encounter the same every-day aggravations that I do; stores, restaurants and other public areas are not always accessible. I can’t say I am surprised.
I discovered this while discussing the issue with a representative of a British company that designs, builds and installs elevators (platform lifts) for domestic and commercial (even portable!) settings. They have numerous template designs but also specialize in “bespoke” designs, meaning “to the customer’s specifications.
The company, I feel, recognizes that many disabled people’s quality of life could be greatly improved. Inactivity comes from feeling disconnected from the outside world, feeling confined to one’s home. Ability Lifting Solutions is devoted to providing its clientele with a much more flexible quality of life, more options, more freedom. And in the end, that really is the answer, isn’t it?
They work with the customer to “suit your needs and budget” even if all you need is a lift to get you up one step. The work is all very modern, sleep and aesthetically pleasing. Domestic accessibility has come a long way since I was growing up and at my parents’ house we had a mechanical device in a closet renovated into an elevator shaft.
Ability Lifting Solutions’ Web site does not discuss pricing outright, but it does have a “Get a Quote” link. Surely with this company around there is a convenient, affordable way for companies to do as the Equality Act 2010 says. Surely it is worth a look if you are a business owner or a disabled resident in the U.K. or mainland Europe. Even if you are not, it is still worth a look to see how their product stacks up against what is available where you live.
Below is a link to a story about LaKay Roberts, a child with cerebral palsy who is physically able to use a walker. But her school is trying to ban her from using it, citing concerns that she will fall in the hall and get hurt. I am in a wheelchair but when I was in school, I was able to strap in to a full body brace and use a walker. And I fell occasionally. But that was the worst that happened. Because you know what I did after I fell? I got up. When I was in school and I had my daily physical therapy session which included my “walking” in my braces and walker/crutches, I had a therapist or teacher or classmate who walked with me. Are you telling me this school can’t afford to give that much to this child so that she might have the opportunity to develop a certain degree of independence. Independence does not come easy. It requires that we first depend on another. That we have someone to lean on, someone to help us up when we fall. Because as we strive for independence, it will inevitably happen. We fall. But we get back up. And when we do, we are that much closer to freedom.
Here is the link to which I am referring. Let me know what you think.