Accessibility for Disabled on a Global Scale

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/25/opinion/how-to-do-right-by-the-disabled.html?_r=0

This article expresses the ongoing progress to increase accessibility for the disabled, not just on a local scale, but also on a global level. Not only will disabled people in other countries be able to gain easier access to places, but the treaty will benefit disabled Americans as well. More disabled students would be able to study abroad and travel with the implement of accommodations for the disabled. I did find it ridiculous that the reason the treaty to execute these beneficial changes was put down before was due to the thought of America losing its power and that disabled children would not be returned to their parents. If anything, it would increase America’s power with more people being able to study abroad and building relationships with other nations, along with the invaluable experiences and exposure to different cultures gained.

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Disability Access in China

Article

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.

Meet the Robots for Humanity

I’ve always been a fan of TED talks, and this one I feel operates as a tangent to what we’ve discussed in class. In this video, the witty Henry Evans details his full-body paralysis and how he has used modern technology to “overcome” his disability and perform feats that he says even able-bodied people can’t. He can walk, drive, and even fly.

I wonder whether the advanced technology discussed in the video is an aide or a hinderance to the disabled rights movement. I feel as though some would argue that too much reliance on technology is not natural and acceptable, and others would welcome the possibilities and advances that come with it. What’s your opinion? Should an able-bodied person be allowed/encouraged to have these robots?

MS Skydiver

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/10/27/241218946/man-with-ms-jumps-over-mount-everest-i-feel-very-happy?utm_content=socialflow&utm_campaign=nprfacebook&utm_source=npr&utm_medium=facebook

Skydiving is a huge feat for anyone. Skydiving onto Mt. Everest is even more impressive. I can see how a person with multiple sclerosis accomplishing such an incredible feat can be news-worthy, since happy and inspiring stories are usually hits with the readers. The audience is supposed to think hey, if this MS guy can do it, so can I! An unfortunate wording does appear in this story when the writer refers to the skydiver, Marc Kopp, in the caption of his picture as a “multiple sclerosis sufferer” and later in the story as “[one] who suffers from primary progressive multiple sclerosis”. Now, I don’t want to be too condescending of the story. It is a great one, and I love when Kopp is quoted saying, “I hope my action will inspire others living with this illness. I hope many more will follow in my footsteps.” I think how Kopp describes himself, as one “living with” MS, has such a more positive connotation than how the writer describes him. Kopp is a man who seems to be embracing all aspects of his life and following his dreams, as every human being should. Positive portrayals of people with disabilities have been mentioned numerous times throughout this class. I was happy to see this celebratory event among other NPR stories.

Dating and Mental Illness

During this past Thursday’s class, we discussed the current stigma surrounding mental disability. From severe anxiety to schizophrenia, so many conditions exist without visible proof. Paul Heroux, a Massachusetts State Representative, wrote a blog entry on the Huffington Post about a friend of his who was diagnosed with chronic dysthymia last year. The Mayo Clinic states that chronic dysthymia is “a mild but long-term form of depression. Symptoms usually last for at least two years, and often for much longer than that. Dysthymia interferes with your ability to function and enjoy life.”

Prior to receiving his diagnosis, Heroux’s friend was overwhelmed by stress, anxiety, and thoughts of suicide. These things and his paranoia severely impacted his dating life. He was hesitant to seek medical attention because he felt as though being given a diagnosis would bring about unwanted shame. (This certainly speaks to the perceptions that many individuals have of mental illness.) Fortunately, he sought help, was diagnosed with chronic dysthymia, and began to take Celexa. His behavior in relationships and overall temperament drastically improved.

Sadly, the issue of whether or not to treat one’s mental illness with medication continues to prevail. Heroux’s friend was in much higher spirits while taking Celexa, but, as a side-effect, he gained a bit of weight. This led him to stop taking his medication. The detriments of his chronic dysthymia returned, and he embarked on a lengthy cycle of highs and extreme lows with a woman who he has been dating for several months. Heroux, upon discovering this, decided to have a conversation with his friend. He discovered that, like with the shame mentioned at the start of the post, his friend was ashamed of his needing medication. He believed that his girlfriend, as well as other women, would reject him because he has a condition.

To an outsider, mental disability is quite confusing. But I think that even those who are on the inside can be perplexed by their conditions. This blog post is a great example of the benefits and consequences of medication, as well as the damaging effects of stigma.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/paul-heroux/dating-mental-illness_b_4203302.html

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/dysthymia/DS01111

Heroic Waterboy Makes Everyone Feels Good

http://www.godvine.com/A-Waterboy-with-Down-Syndrome-Became-a-Football-Team-s-Hero-4152.html

This class on disability culture and disability rights has caused me to think so much more about things that I used to simply accept. I encountered this story through Facebook. It had received multiple likes and comments such as “awww” and “so sweet.” Before this class I would have thought the same and kept scrolling down my news feed. But, since taking this class with Prof. Lukin, I saw this video and paused. I didn’t know what to think of it anymore. One thing that I’m pretty sure of is that this town and this football team had good intentions. They obviously wanted to make this teammate happy, and it seems as though they did! I do however, think that it is a shame this is his first and last time ever being on the football field during a game. And during the last quarter. Of a game that was already won. If the score were tied up or not in their favor, would they have risked a win to let their teammate play? In the story the news anchor states”his teammates said they wanted to repay him.” Sounds like a team meeting was held to discuss this boy’s participation. A team meeting that did not include one of the teammates. As the football game plays out we see the players delicately hand the ball to the former water boy and them walk paternally and defensively alongside him as he makes his touchdown. The opposing team doesn’t dare intervene. This is all out of the best intentions. And the autistic player looks happy he really does. But there were news cameras staring at the team the whole time. Would such camaraderie be shown if the cameras weren’t rolling? Who knows. I just wish that equal opportunity had been genuinely offered throughout this water boy’s whole career.