Tuesday, August 20, 2013

People with disabilities are not Disposable.

The following letter was published on August 21, 2013 in the National Post and the Hamilton Spectator.
Steve Passmore

By Steve Passmore

Growing up with Cerebral Palsy, I know for a fact that negative attitudes towards people with disabilities, such as myself have always existed.

I remember overhearing, when I was 14, someone saying: 
“how he walks makes me sick.” 
When I enter a room, people feel uncomfortable.

In the same way the letter stated that Maxwell made her children feel uncomfortable.

When I was in my 30’s and talking to someone about an issue, I was told that because I was disabled that my opinion didn’t matter.

I face an underlying prejudice from people in society.

The only way to make a difference in society is to address the elephant in the room which is the underlying prejudice toward people with disabilities.

There is a prevalent attitude within society that I and other people with disabilities are disposable.

We will never have equality, value and acceptance unless the underlying attitude of discrimination is eliminated within society.

The comments made by the woman in the letter are comments that would not be made publicly but represent the views of many people in our culture.

These attitudes towards people with disabilities lead to the support for euthanasia and assisted suicide within society and therefore these prejudices cannot be swept under the rug anymore because it will lead to the death of people with disabilities.

Society has created access to institutions and services for people with disabilities. The letter writer states that as a hard working person:
"I hate people like you ... just because you have a special needs kid you are entitled to special treatment"
I regularly experience this type of resentment in my life.

In the past, people with disabilities were institutionalized. Now we are living in the community. Because we are visible in society and demanding equality, many people resent people with disabilities.

It is not my pain and suffering that people want to eliminate, it is theirs, because they feel uncomfortable with people with disabilities, even to look upon us. 

This is a human rights issue.

We need the media to produce programming that exposes the elephant in the room.

I would like to thank the media for bringing this story to the attention of the public.

Steve Passmore is a disability activist who lives in Hamilton Ontario


gadfly said...

Thanks, Steve for that. I've faced it too, when people say, But, you're diabetic...you probably can't do this job...

That was heard at a job interview. I walked out.

lilladydolphin said...

I was in tears when i read this letter, i am still in total disbelief!! I am a special needs teacher, i have been working with special needs children for a very long time, and i NEVER look at my children ( i think of the children in my class as my children!) I can not believe that someone actually thinks this way, and then proceeds to write a letter and give it to these people! OMG apparently this women (and i use this term women loosely) has never came in contact with special needs people, and know of the love that they give without expecting ANYTHING in return. My father was a double amputee, and i had 3 uncles with MS and an aunt who was a survivor of polio, They were all people just like you and i they just had to do things in a different way to accomplish things we take for granted. I just want to say that all the special needs persons i have worked with children and adults alike have enriched my life a 100% and i could never concieve of my life without them as a part of it.

Lily said...

Thank you Steve! I had to leave my last apartment because other tenants were bothered by my wheelchair, they would remove me from the elevator and throw rocks at me while I waited for wheeltrans. Even doctors discriminate. I have cognitive problems and they can't deal with explaining things to me in a way I understand so they speak to my caregiver and tell her to explain to me later. They talk about me like I am not even there and roll me out of their way, it's awful because I am there.

david miller said...

I am not disabled but I work with those that are and I have studied both in the US and UK on self image issues for disabled persons. People can be terribly hurtful and no amount of philosophising will alter that.

People learn to deal with their disabilities with humor and social 'passing' . We can only achieve what our personal level of humanity allows.