Today is Blog Against Disablism Day. A couple of hundred bloggers around the country and world are devoting their post today to the subject of disablism. Some will be angry, some will be funny and some will be proud. Many will tell of personal experiences of being victimized by disablism.
What is disablism?
Disablism is not hiring Stephen Hawking as an astrophysics professor because his voice is artificial.
Disablism is not voting for Max Cleland not because you disagree with his positions on issues, but because he has no legs.
Disablism is not seeing Stevie Wonder perform because he can’t see you.
Disablism is paying more attention to what a person can’t do than to what he or she is capable of.
I learned at a very early age that everyone has a mixture of abilities and disabilities and that what someone can do is more important than what they can’t. My best childhood friend taught me. His name was Alan Kamen and I knew him in fourth and fifth grade.
Alan was so good at so many things that I was jealous of his abilities. He played piano and the accordion, hit the ball hard when we played softball and spoke two languages. He was also blind.
Being an ignorant kid and too young to drive, I had no idea that blindness was a disability. Alan went to the same school as me and all the other kids in the neighborhood; he was in my class. He read the same books we read; they were big, heavy and in braille, but otherwise the same. When we wrote with pencils he wrote on his heavy braille typewriter. Alan played softball with us almost every day. We used a ball with bells in it and when he ran the bases we stood on the base and yelled so he could find it. Those were the only concessions we made to his being blind.
Alan taught me that there is usually more than one way to do things, that adaptation is a necessary life skill, and that everyone has abilities that are very easy to miss if you pay attention to what they can’t do.
No one is asking you to do anything special, just let ability trump disability.
The world being the way it is, we can’t afford to toss anyone’s abilities away.