Friday, April 07, 2006

Disability Discrimination

After class discussion yesterday, it became apparent that most of us thought Gabrielle Hamilton article "Eat, Memory: Line of Sight" appeared to be rather arrogant and socially inept regarding persons with disabilities. For the past two years, I have volunteered with Stone Belt which serves a great majority of people with disabilities in the Bloomington community. These individuals work, play and enjoy life like the rest of us, but just happen to be a bit more special.

I came across this article posting when I was searching for some relevant information I could use on our class blog. Alan R. Theriault lives with her disability everyday and she gives a commentary on how her class reacted to a comment she made about disabilities.

"It hadn't occurred to them that a character in a story might incidentally
have a disability, much like she could have red hair, brown skin or a
mother-in-law who's allergic to cats. While all of these characteristics,
including a disability, are significant in certain situations some of the time
in both fiction and real life, they do not always carry a weighty metaphor. They
just are. "

Alana's point was met with "averted eyes" and in my belief she felt her disability and the lack of understanding from her peers. The point I see here is that this type of discrimination and fear filters past the university stage into the workplace. The use of the Disability Discrimination Act is to prevent the rest of us from using our ignorance and fear to dictate what we believe a person's limitations are. My buddy from Stone Belt has a job and can carry on a decent conversation, but it took me venturing to talk to her for me to understand that my misgivings were my own fault.

It will be interesting to hear other stories from classmates about their experiences with people with disabilities. I also have learned not to say disabled people because it has such a negative connotation.
  • Would you hire someone with disabilities? What would expect of their performance?
  • Do you have any experiences with disabilities?
  • How would you go about improving other's opinions concerning disabilities?

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