elephant on tight rope

Can book of disabilities be rewritten?

by SANTA PEREZ

There's an elephant in the room, and it's a big balancing act!

There are many times when I’ve sat in a committee and want to scream, “How and where did we get so lost? Do we think we are so entitled that we can’t see what we are doing?”

Santa Perez is the president of People First Nevada.

Santa Perez is the president of People First Nevada.

Day in and day out, people without disabilities are making decisions for those with disabilities. I believe that somewhere out there people without disabilities swear by a golden rule book. This “book of disabilities” says that we are not equal to or not worthy of the same qualities as people without disabilities. It’s been around since the beginning of time. It gives permission for people without disabilities to sentence people with disabilities to a lifetime of segregation, endless paperwork, unconventional lifestyles and being under the lifetime microscope.

I have to admit though that we’ve come so far when it comes to equality for all, but a disconnect still remains.

For example, people with disabilities are still working for less pay than they deserve. The gap between those with and without disabilities working continues to widen. People without disabilities are saying that it’s “ok.” But instead they should be asking, “Would I work for that amount?”

During children’s academic lives, the primary focus is to teach them to be as independent as possible. But as they enter adulthood, they need to rely on “the system” to live.

On the other side of the coin, people with disabilities are letting others make the decisions for them. Even if we are taught or encouraged to participant, do we ever take the wheel? Very few do, resulting in an increased burden for those who become leaders and outspoken self-advocates.

People with disabilities need to come to the table not as voiceless tokens, but rather as active, opinionated and confident participants – people taking charge of their life, not passive participants.

Could there be a middle ground? Can people without disabilities support people with disabilities in a respectful, complimentary fashion, reflected in supporting people with disabilities to be their own champions?

Can this outdated Book of Disabilities be rewritten?

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