The title of this posts says it all though not in any particular order. In every society there are people whose needs cannot be catered for by the commonly available resources/infrastructure in society. Such persons are largely called disabled for their “failure” to fit in the “normal” scheme of things. I have thought about this for sometime and each time I come to a conclusion that seems rational, there is something else that pops up to challenge my stance.
First of all I think there is nobody who is disabled: it is the failure of the environment to provide for the supposedly disabled persons’ needs. To label a person “disabled” is simply blaming this person for the failure of the environment to meet his/her needs. Disability is quite varied in its manifestations; even people of similar disability may not have the same needs.
Some governments have responded by creating communities for the disabled. That is a reasonable solution that makes sense but at the same time, I think it gets the “disabled” away from the rest of society and effectively creates a class of persons. The creation and existence of such a class of handicap persons is detrimental to the handicap persons in such a community and to the rest of society; an argument can be made against such communities on the basis of morality. Like I said it is a reasonable solution in a sense that it makes perfect sense to have the “disabled” people in one place so as to effectively provide for their needs. At the same time it reeks of an intention to have the disabled belong with their “kind”.
Personally, I like the idea of living as part of the rest of society but this does not mean that I become ignorant of the challenges that I must over come in order to function like everyone else in society. Hiding away in some part of society and belonging there will ultimately create the impression that there are no disabled people or worse still that the handicap people can’t survive with the rest of the people in society. Disability, by its nature, is already limiting enough and yes it is plausible to posit that the limitations of a disability threatens the ability of a handicap person to function in a “normal” environment. Such a perspective is best responded to by examining the value that a disabled person has to the rest of society; the contribution that disabled persons can make to the rest of society should be adequate justification to make every effort to have them participant in society to the best of their individual abilities. The need to segregate the disabled is based on the premise that disability is negative and indeed doubts about the contribution that the handicap can make to the rest of society.
Disability is not negative in itself; I dare say that it is kind of fun actually. I find myself in situations in which things are not as easy or clear cut as the “normal” people would naively believe. Perhaps the greatest excitement is mustering the strength to come up with solutions to these problems while maintaining a sense of justice by recognizing the intentions and contributions of other people – “disabled” and otherwise.
As time passes, it also becomes a question of how much strength do I expend in solving every other challenge that comes my way. At the end of the day, I am physically handicap and I have no intention of changing, except to live with it fully and completely. A friend of mind once told me how beautifully (I take this opportunity to blush lol) I cope with the obstacles in my environment. I only wish I could show her the perfection of what it means to be “disabled”.
Like everything else in life, up holding this perfection is a conscious effort that is impossibly draining mentally and spiritually. Perhaps as part of the disability, I think I am not that ignorant since I have to continuously account for what’s in my environment so as to properly adjust, sometimes in real time. The side effect of such a habit is that, I continuously pick up even the small shifts and changes around me and almost automatically react to them even before they happen. I suppose it attests to my dislike for surprises, generally.