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LETTER: Disability awareness needed
I read Harlow Flory’s letter in the Feb. 25 Dispatch and Mike Ervin’s piece on Scalia (“Scalia Caused Damage to Disability Rights” Feb. 29, 2016) and had some random thoughts.
The letters are quite timely as March is Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. Had I not read Harlow’s letter I might not have known this, even with my “ever-widening network of informants” in the disability community.
And that speaks to the importance of networking, involvement and activism by the disabled and their caretakers. With budget cuts, impasses and politics there will be issues arising. The disabled and their caretakers will be adversely affected. On the personal level these things have an impact: if we did not receive free diapers for my disabled son, the expense would be quite substantial. And I fear that cut is coming down the road.
Perhaps an even bigger aspect to the disability issue is denial. It may well be the root of the problem. Denial by people who minimize the extent of the disability is depressingly common.
The extent of denial, prejudice and discrimination cannot be overstated. It is all around us. Shameful, shocking discrimination occurs in more places and instances than one would think. Disavowal of discrimination by organizations; particularly those beset by bullying, bureaucracy or dysfunctional communications is commonplace. Those within such organizations rationalize it and explain it away
Those who deny or discriminate don’t realize the damage they do. It is not grasped fully in financial terms. And they are completely clueless concerning the emotional damage which they do.
During March we should all take a moment to scrutinize our perceptions of the disabled. How many do we know? And how many caretakers do we know? What are the challenges they face that we don’t think about?
CHRIS A. HERTIG
Spring Garden Township