Where Mental Asylums Live On

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In America, asylums are not as common as they once were because they’ve been cleared out in favor of community-based care for the disabled. However, internationally, it appears that asylums are a very common way of dealing with disabled people. Asylums are written off as dark places of abuse and neglect and have a terrible reputation because they are not very well maintained. The community based care systems in America, though, have not developed quickly enough to keep mentally disabled people off the streets and out of jail. It makes one wonder what should be done in order to regulate the mentally disabled and give them an equal opportunity to experience life. In Guatemala, where asylums are common, the government is working on legislature that will assist the disabled in living in community based care facilities and have more patient support in hospitals in order to encourage positive treatment of these people. If this succeeds, hopefully, more nations will follow their lead and realize that the asylum isn’t the only way to deal with mentally disabled people.

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Disability Access in China

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This article describes the limited opportunities for disabled people in China. It begins with the story of Ni Zhen, a blind man who was told that he could only become a masseuse or musician because those were the occupations his culture deemed appropriate for people with visual impairment. Also, in order to move on to higher education, students need to take an exam that is not even offered to disabled students, further limiting their job potential. Ni, however, went on to obtain a master’s in education by going to university in Britain and is working on a degree in law.

Not everyone in China is as fortunate at Ni, though. The articles cites that “gaining access to treatment and jobs is a challenge”, so poverty is common among disabled Chinese. This is mainly due to the fact that professions dealing with rehabilitation for disabled people are held in very low regard. In order for disabled Chinese to get more attention, the government may need to encourage medical students to see the value in helping the disabled. It is interesting to see how this profession is not as highly regarded as it is in America and to see how a different culture perceives a disability as only leading to a certain occupation. We are very lucky in America, where the government has made legislature protecting disabled people, but even the disabled community here doesn’t consider it enough.

Museum Access

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This article describes how museums are making art exhibits more accessible to disabled people. While all public spaces are required to be wheelchair accessible by law, this doesn’t necessarily mean that disabled visitors will get the same full experience. Several museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, are implementing programs that will allow people who are blind, deaf, or autistic experience museums to their fullest. It’s interesting to see how the arts can be experienced other than by sight because we usually think of museums as static things to be observed and not touched. For years, audio materials have been available to museum goers that will describe certain pieces to the viewer. These are useful for everyone, but now there are more specialized things that are taken into consideration such as the height of display cases so that those in a wheelchair can see the artwork. There are also tours available given in ASL and extended hours to give people with cognitive disabilities the time to become familiar with the museum.

The Problem With Institutions

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This article is a blog post on why institutions are not positive places, despite being portrayed as such. When guardians send their relations off to institutions, they believe that this is the best course of action to take. Such institutions, however, have their own methods of controlling patients and altering their state of mind. While these methods are not forms of physical abuse, it is a form of mental manipulation. I think that this is due to the fact that the disabled people are not able to make simple decisions in their life such as when and what to eat. Instead, the staff take care of everything and the inhabitant is left feeling very useless. Eventually, the only way to cope with such treatment is to give up and lose what it means to be fully human. I believe that this is what the author means when she writes, “in order to survive it the inmates have to become as much of that unperson as they can manage.”

This is not and effective way to treat and/or care for disabled people. Instead, perhaps some thought could be given in having the disabled make their own choices and be held responsible for something. I know, however, that this needs time and a massive shift in the attitude of the general public regarding the potential of people who are disabled.

Blind Culture: It Doesn’t Exist

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Barbara Pierce, President of the National Federation of the Blind in Ohio, explains that there really is no blind culture that can be compared to the culture of the deaf. She attributes this to the fact that blind people are still able to communicate quite well verbally with other non-disabled people. This is a good point because I think that people gravitate towards those who speak similarly to themselves. When an accent is apparent, as in deaf people who are trained orally, it makes some people uncomfortable and not as willing to work together. This is not to say, however, that blind people do not face any kind of discrimination. Pierce points out that blind people have a 74% unemployment rate, though the sources of the statistics she uses are questionable.

Something that I found surprising was that she claimed that only 10% of blind children learn how to read Braille. This is largely due to the fact that the majority of teachers who are tasked with teaching blind students do not even know Braille, or don’t know it well enough to teach it. I wonder if it would be possible to create a more standardized method of schooling blind children in order for them to be properly educated in Braille.