Disability, Education, and Equality in the Modern World

By Louis Do

louis

Louis Do is the Chief Fixit at Scottish American General Insurance Agency, which is just a fancy way of saying he is a problem solver in a growing company. When not tackling headaches to pay the bills, he can be found studying to finish up his education at BCC or indulging in his love for good music. Blind from birth, Louis delights in showing people around him how to see the world differently, for lack of sight is not lack of vision.

When professors are enlightened to the different shades of disability, some are eager to embrace the process of equality and make their classrooms inclusive learning environments. Others are not so cooperative. They would say that ADA legislation does not allow for such accommodations. However, they conveniently forget the fact that the ADA is about twenty-six years old, and that the world has undergone many changes since July 1991. The ADA was written as a document to ensure equality going forward, rather than a snapshot in time. It is inherently unjust to twist the meaning of this powerful legislation to shirk one’s duty. Beyond this fact, an accessible, inclusive environment is a right, not a privilege. All the high-tech gadgets in the world do not serve a purpose if people who need them are not allowed to utilize their benefits.

Unfortunately, most disabled people never get the tools they need or reach the stage where they can advocate for their rights. Assistive technology is often prohibitively expensive. A Braille computer for the blind can cost upwards of $5000, and mobility devices for the physically disabled can be as expensive as $20,000, just to give a few examples. However, what is truly damaging is the school system’s expectations for disabled children. By default, special education teachers may place their charges in lower division classes or special segregated classes, simply because they are disabled. They assume that these children would not be able to keep up with their “normal” peers. These kids are hidden away from the public eye and not taught necessary advocacy skills. If they reach college, they face further discrimination. Colleges are required by law to make their placement exams accessible to all students. Despite this, certain institutions have a record of being non-compliant, because these entities know that both federal and state governments will rarely enforce this law. The law speaks of justice in a theoretical manner, but when it comes to the reality of rectifying injustices, these theories are only empty promises.

Society must stop cataloging the disabled for the things they cannot do, but instead help them discover the things they can do. This is the only way to unlock revolutionary potentials and reverse injustices. This is the ethical way to achieve equality for the future.

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