Removing Disability Vs. Removing Barriers

Should people with disabilities be focused on curing their condition, or be proud of their differences and work for accomodations for them?

I’m somewhere in the middle in this age-old disability debate. I would definitely appreciate a cure because of all the suffering and lack of supports I’ve experienced, but I’ve mostly focused on supports and accomodations for the past decade.

Here’s why:
Disability has always been and will always be part of the human experience, just another mode of being. We must accept and accomodate disability, no matter how severe. Even if all forms of MD, MS, CP, AIDS, Downs Syndrome, autism, spina bifida and spinal cord injuries are cured, people will still age and become disabled; new injuries, diseases and disorders will come up every day. Everyone will live with disabilities if they live long enough to be elderly. Disability is here to stay, and as such we need to accept it as much as possible. There are tons of unnecessary barriers, corruption, discrimination and wrong ideas that block the talents of people with disabilities. It must stop.

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Lack of ability should not deprive us of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in a humane society. It should not segregate us anymore than someone left-handed should be segregated. Yet millions of us languish in isolation, in nursing homes or stuck at home with inadequate help. America needs to decide whether or not it truly wants to be an egalitarian society or not, that’s what the disability rights movement and the other civil rights movements are about. A door with no ramp blocks equal access to me as much as a “whites only” sign would block equal access to a black man. Access is access.

Some have reacted by instilling in themselves a great deal of pride in their differences. Though a silent, “WTF” sign may spring up in my mind when someone says “I wouldn’t take a cure,” I would never question one of the many people who feel this way. They are just making the best of the hand they were dealt, being proud of who they are. I admire that immensely.

Though often it makes as little sense to me as “left-handedness pride” would, why not be proud of your disability if you can?

It is just hard to be proud of who you are when you’re lying in your own waste because you don’t have enough help. Though the source of the problem is the disability, the suffering associated with a disability is usually caused by lack of support (a social problem). Why not focus on something we CAN change (lack of supports) rather than something we can’t? (disability will always exist). This is what disability rights movement is, focusing on barriers that could be easily cleared if we had the will to do it. In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Once injustice is cured, other cures don’t matter as much.