I work for a not-for-profit organization that helps developmentally disabled people get where they want to go from where they are. My job is to walk beside the people I support to help them accomplish their dreams. The sky is the limit.
The most important aspect of what we do is to focus on total inclusion of the people we support, whether it be in a social environment or in a work environment. We give them the support, tools, and opportunities to help them succeed in an ‘able’ focused world. Part of that support is by modelling the way disabled people should be treated, and that’s exactly the way everyone else is treated. Everyone deserves to be included, to be valued, to be respected, and to have the chance to reach their hopes and dreams. The problem is that, for far too long, the focus has been on the ‘dis’ and not on the ‘ability’. But, no matter how severe the disability, there is always ability.
As a society, we’ve decided which disabilities are acceptable and which are not. But, when you stop to think about it, most of us have a disability of one sort or another. It could be vision problems, hearing loss, migraines, asthma, back problems, arthritis, high blood pressure, depression, or a stutter, to name a few. For that matter, at any given moment, any one of us could become disabled in a car crash or diving accident or through a stroke, chronic illness or terminal illness. So, it seems to me that we should put aside our prejudices and preconceived ideas, and just treat everyone the way we would want to be treated ourselves. The world would be a much better place if we would all commit to focusing on the ‘ability’ of others and not on their ‘dis’.