This election cycle has been unique when it comes to disability.
For the first time in my memory, disability is a big topic. Our group has been erased and ignored. We’ve been shoved into institutions, dismissed, and treated as objects of pity. Though one of the major American parties is treating us with respect and dignity, the world has a long way to go.
In The News
There was a brutal attack on disabled residents of a group home this past July in Japan. Their local media outlets didn’t pick it up until well after the fact. As stated in the linked article, the murderer had said he wanted to “eliminate the disabled from the world.”
In December, Nicholas Fifield met a woman with mental illness over the internet. He asked her to go to the movies with, but he took her to his home and raped her instead. He won’t be tried for sexual assault.
These are only two stories of erasure and injustices visited upon the disabled population every day. I could spend hours connecting race to disability, and how the latter is generally erased by racial justice movements.
As disturbing as news coverage and legal treatment are, political treatment is just as bad. Despite being protected by the ADA and IDEA, people with disabilities face an ongoing battle for their rights.
Many programs are poorly funded and are almost always the first on the chopping block. Parents in Delaware are facing a yo-yo act regarding services for their kids. How can the most vulnerable kids there get the free and appropriate education they’re entitled to?
Yes, positive attention by a major party political candidate is fantastic, but it’s the local elections that count. How do you measure disability issues with all of the others out there? How can you tell the difference between lip service and true dedication?
In addition to local candidate problems, there’s also the issue of voting accessibility. We should all be allowed to vote unencumbered, but there are polling places that still aren’t accessible.
To say nothing of some ballot formats. A few years back, when I was trying to vote in a local election, I had the hardest time understanding the ballot. They’d changed the layout, and in addition to the poor font choice, it was generally confusing. The format changed to something more legible in the next election.
These are only a few of the issues behind why I decided to base this week’s #AbilityChat on politics and news coverage. Yes, I am approaching this from an American point of view, but people of other nationalities are more than welcome to join in.