In the last year, there has been much discussion about building walls and barriers, it’s in the news everywhere you look regardless of which form of media you rely on for your information and all the rage. Rhonda and I were having a discussion about this very subject but it isn’t political and it isn’t what you think, it’s about the barriers of people’s attitudes and what they feel is the status quo, some of these principles are downright medieval and without merit in the 21st century, come see what I propose.
The barriers and walls I speak of pertain to many humans attitudes and perceptions about persons with disabilities. The Federal Government talks a good game about the unemployed 90% of visually impaired individuals who they give preference to and then interview a few token candidates but in my 35 years of advocacy, it’s just smoke and mirrors, lip service. The Americans with Disabilities Act meant well in the early 70’s and is a very idealistic law that fines the most obvious egregious offenders but what they can’t legislate is the preconceived ideas of hiring managers and human resource types that have these walls, barriers, and partitions in their minds, they are the last outpost of people preventing all disabled people from gaining access to the “American dream” and our economic system.
Dr. King spoke of shedding light on darkness and fighting ignorance with education, we could use a good dose of these concepts when it comes to employing extraordinarily qualified people in jobs that only require the slightest of accommodations, the world needs a blind Oprah Winfrey or a Dr.King in a wheelchair or an Einstein on the Autism spectrum, this is the only way these barriers and stereotypes can be busted, the walls of ignorance be dismantled, we easier took down the Berlin wall than the walls in the minds of uninformed people with the power to change policies.
The answer is intensive widespread education of people on every level starting in Kindergarten, that kids with challenges can and often do achieve more than those who are fully equipped with their entire battery of physical and mental skills, I’ve seen my wife be a token interview too many times even though she is degreed and speaks and writes eloquently, if we want to truly progress as a culture introduce the notion to all people that a disability is just a challenge and the whole person is the commodity of intelligence we’re seeking, we talk a lot of smack about building walls and barriers, let’s get on board with destroying a few in our country ASAP.