It is amazing how similar could the challenges be sometimes – across the oceans, and across the countries with different levels of development. And I am talking not only about some challenges or issues in general, but about attitude towards people with disabilities.
Only today I have had an interesting discussion with the executive of Governor’s Council on Developmental Disabilities – and apparently we found a lot in common (well, may be not that a lot though). She has been sharing a story that had happened literally couple of days ago – a kid with a disability (non-verbal, medically fragile) was pushed in the school, felt down and broke his arm. The most outrageous part was that when that happened no one in the school (neither nurse, nor teachers or peers) bothered to call 911. “Had this happened to a teacher or a kid without a disability, they would have definitely called 911. People with disabilities are STILL treated in a different way”.
Hearing that made me to quietly “wow” – even here, where literally almost every building is accessible, where advocacy efforts had been so successfully loud over decades, where people actually are not any longer locked up in institutions and where the whole judicial system works quite efficiently (in most of the cases perhaps) – even in this society I can still hear something like that.
For me personally it is just another proof of how people are just the same everywhere. Probably every social system, even the best one (considering that building that best one is in theory possible) will have its drawbacks. There will always be someone who will try to take an advantage of a weaker or vulnerable one. There will always be a cause to advocate and stand for.
These thoughts are quite simple and surely not something unique or smart. The point that I am trying to make here is that realizing this should actually fuel up efforts in trying to make it better – for as many people as possible. Behind each success story or each accident there is a human life, full of hopes, aspirations, gifts and talents ready to shine and grow. Speaking of people with disabilities – recently somewhere I came across an interesting expression – someone said “handicapable” – meaning capability and ability, not a disability. I so much agree with such wording – it indeed highlights abilities of each person. And as for the disabilities – all of us have our own disabilities – there is always something that we are not capable to do.