Tag Archives | physical accessibility

Happy Thanksgiving?

I wanted to write a post about how one of the things that I’m grateful for thisthanksgiving Thanksgiving is how far people with disabilities have come. But I didn’t quite get there.

Happy Thanksgiving…*sigh*

I was going to start my Thanksgiving post off with this:

“On Thanksgiving Sunday, my father and I watched “The King’s Speech” together. My father told me that King George VI had a younger brother, John, who was basically kept in isolation from not only the public, but from the family’s day-to-day life because of epilepsy and perhaps autism.  His mother visited him often, and he had a cottage and a full staff of his own, but he was kept out of the public eye and court life because he was “different”. Segregating a child from the public eye that way seems as alien an approach to dealing with disability to me as shutting a child with a disability in an institution and forgetting that they exist…or, as a health care professional, suggesting to parents that it’s in everyone’s best interest to do that.”

I wanted to suggest, in my Happy Thanksgiving post,  that we’ve come oh-so-far since then, with so much success in closing institutions and people with disabilities being treated so much better by the medical community. But then I remembered the posts that I’ve written about discrimination in granting organ transplants, the attitude that some of the medical establishment holds that babies with Down’s Syndrome should be aborted or denied life-saving treatment after birth, and the recent story out of England about the man with an intellectual disability who found a DNR that he’d not consented to in his suitcase when he returned home from a hospital. I remembered the conversations that I’ve had with colleagues about how group homes are really just little institutions, where abuse can happen just as easily as it did in the larger ones that people fought so hard to close.

I remembered that for several years after my stroke, there wasn’t a truly accessible restaurant in my town, and that legislation mandating that government buildings become accessible in my province was enacted only in 2005. Right now, an overhaul of the main street in my town has the sidewalks torn up on both sides, making passage practically impossible for anyone using a manual wheelchair and difficult for anyone with any sort of mobility or balance disability. No one thought of this, apparently, or cared enough in their hurry to get the job done to consider that they should only tear up one side of the street at the time.

I remembered that Henry Miles Frost has been petitioning since before school started to go to the school that’s just down the street from him instead of a special school somewhere else. Despite all of the people that stand with Henry, the school board won’t be convinced. http://www.facebook.com/IStandWithHenry?fref=ts

I remembered Britain, and how people with disabilities have been struggling there the past year as their benefits have been slashed.

What do you do when it’s difficult to remember the positives?

Happy Thanksgiving. Sorry I’m late…

By the way, Prince John died when he was 13. This blog post talks about his story in more detail: http://www.sockitmama.com/2011/04

 

Comments are closed

Attn: Editor of the New York Post, re: Americans with Disabilities Act editoral

On April 21, the New York Post published an editorial on the Americans with Disabilities Act editorial that, well, really surprised me.

http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/editorials/handicapping_america_ILRF4YpiggwHJYjGx4OghL

First, A StoryAmericans with Disabilities Act

The first Christmas after my mother died, when I was 20 years old, my father, my sister and a family friend went to New York for Christmas to avoid being around the family home and the memories. We were determined to make it a good trip. We were there from the 26th to Jan 1st. We stayed in a nice hotel and ate nice food. We did all the touristy things. We saw shows. We took *plenty* of cabs.

All of this was pre-stroke, so I didn’t have trouble getting in and out of cabs. But if we’d had to make this trip with me even in my folding wheelchair, I wonder if the trip would have been as good as it was. Given what I know now about taxis in New York, I’d bet it would have been a lot more stressful – perhaps stressful enough to make us consider going to another city.  And it would have been a shame for New York’s economy if we’d decided to go somewhere else that week.

The New York Post on the Americans with Disabilities Act: “…the misery the law inflicts on everyone else seems far more than that of those it helps.”

Seriously?

Let me be sure I understand this, Editor. The Americans with Disabilities Act is making non-disabled people in New York City miserable because:

  • Unscrupulous lawyers are encouraging people to file frivolous lawsuits based on the Americans With Disabilities Act.
  • The cost of making facilities accessible (like pools and subway stations) is straining the city’s budgets.
  • Requiring more accessible taxi cabs or a plan to increase access to existing cabs for people with disabilities is unacceptable Americans with Disabilities Act overreach.
Editor, is your beef not more with lawyers and contractors than  with the Americans with Disabilities Act and those trying to enforce it?
And you need to hear another story.

Hypothetical, But It Could Happen

Imagine you, Editor, as a resident of New York, used a motorized wheelchair. Imagine you got a call that your child, at a friend’s birthday party, had been hit by a car chasing a ball into the street and was in critical condition at a hospital across town.

The dial-a-cab service that provides accessible cabs can get you a cab in an hour. But by the time you’ve mapped a route through the accessible stations, it’s going to take over an hour for you to get there anyway. Your child might not be alive by then.

Is this fair? Or just?

Universal Design Isn’t Disabling

Editor, a physically accessible city is one that allows people with disabilities to work, volunteer, access needed services and spend money (and we know that cities love that!)

It’s one that allows people who have temporary disabilities (from casts and crutches to arthritis flare-ups) to get around more easily.

Heck, it allows parents with strollers to get around *much* more easily.

Please remember, Editor, how easily you could acquire a disability. No one likes to think about that, but it’s true. What would you be saying about this then?

Comments are closed

First Day of Spring!

It’s March 20…the First Day of Spring.  It’s a good day for  me.

Winter, Winter, Go Away…Bring on the First Day of Spring!

I don’t live *so* north in Canada that winter presents massively undue hardship. I lived in Saskatchewan when I was a kid, and I have vivid memories of snow on my birthday in September…a Halloween where it was -35 degrees Celsius with the windchill…and the stories that we were told in school of the little girl who took her mittens off, even though it was sunny, and had her hands freeze off.

It really didn’t get that cold here this year (although it has in the past) and there wasn’t even a whole lot of snow until after Christmas. I don’t mind being cold. I can deal with being cold. I can even deal with snow, to a point. It’s when the snow becomes packed on the sidewalks, and freezing

first day of spring

Rachel and Gillian walking during their visit

rain starts to cover it with ice…or when there’s a brief thaw, and then everything freezes up again…that winter starts to hamper my movements. Not only is it slow-going over the ice, I can never tell how far down my cane is going to go into snow when I’m trying to use it support myself.

And while some businesses are very good about keeping their steps and ramps cleared of snow and ice…some aren’t. But that’s another post, for another day.

My sister and her husband were up here recently from their home in Southern Ontario (which got almost no snow this year). They went for a walk around the hilly area in which my father lives, with Baby Gillian. When they returned, my sister said, “There’s so much snow and ice on the roads! How do you walk around here?”

“I don’t, really,” I said, thinking about how much money I’d spent on taxis that winter.

Yay Spring!

So, I’m happy to have gotten through the winter through to the First Day of Spring, as I’m sure are many people in my community who use wheelchairs or mobility aids, or who just have balance issues and live in fear during the winter of falling on the ice. Right now we’re enjoying wonderful weather. The snow is gone from the roads and sidewalks. It’s prime walking weather. We can probably expect a couple of more snowfalls, and maybe another cold snap, but the ground isn’t frozen anymore, so it won’t stay.

The worst is over! Bring on Spring! Happy First Day of Spring!

Comments are closed

Physical Accessibility: Please, No Half-Assed Efforts

This particular rant is about physical accessibility, and inspired by a business building with which I have contact on a regular basis. It has a wheelchair ramp in addition to stairs leading up to its entrance. The problem is that in the winter, the wheelchair ramp is regularly covered with ice and snow. Anyone who’s tried to wheel themselves up a snow- or ice-covered ramp in a manual chair, or who has tried to push someone up a snow- or ice-covered ramp in a manual chair knows that it’s unsafe at best and impossible and worst.

Major Physical Accessibility Problem

This is a long-standing problem. I’ve complained to staff at the business twice this winter. My family has complained in past winters. It’s not just a safety problem for people using wheelchairs, but for anyone else that might use that ramp out of necessity or convenience: parents pushing a stroller, people using walkers, canes, or crutches, and people who just feel a little unsteady on their feet and would like to avoid stairs.physical accessibility

My question is: If a business doesn’t have the resources or the inclination to keep a wheelchair ramp usable for the public, why put it there in the first place?  If the business in question was really serious about easy physical accessibility, and not making customers go through a busy parking lot that’s often as icy as the ramp to get to the back entrance to the building, the ramp would be cleared off. Obviously increasing physical accessibility is not the reason the ramp is there.

I realize that people don’t think about matters of physical accessibility until they really need to. I certainly didn’t. Here’s a hint to those who haven’t thought about them: You can’t half-ass these things. It’s not a good use of the time and money it takes to increase physical accessibility in a  building, and it simply doesn’t send a good message to the rest of the community. It says that you don’t care whether or not people with disabilities or other people that benefit from universal design can access your place of business. It says that you don’t really care whether that group spends any money in your store. As a person with disabilities, when I’ve not been able to get into a business because of my disabilities, I’ve said to myself (and to others), “They obviously don’t want my money…I’ll go to the businesses that do.”

I don’t feel that this is an over-reaction. When it comes to making communities places in which people with disabilities can have full access, they deserve more than half-assed efforts.

 

Comments are closed

Lost a Limb…Regrow a Limb?

Hello again!  I hope that everyone had a great Christmas and that you’re all looking forward to New Year’s!lost a limb

I spent Christmas with my family, at my sister’s house. I got lots of opportunities to play with my little niece and work on my techniques for making her smile and laugh, holding her the way she likes (so that she can see everyone), and picking her up. I’m very aware that there are many childcare that skills I that I haven’t yet mastered, but with each visit with her I feel more and more confident about my ability to look after her using one arm.

I think that’s why I’ve been a bit grumpy about a commercial that I’ve been seeing on television recently. It’s one of those commercials where people with various ailments and their doctors talk about how “We *will* find a cure for ____” (cancer, diabetes, etc.), and of course I know that these research efforts are very important. Besides my AVM (which is not supposed to be hereditary, but I’ve stories that suggest that they do seem to run in families), women on my mother’s side tend to die young from cancer, and there’s stroke and diabetes on my father’s side…it’s not exactly comforting.

Lost a Limb? We Can Cure You!

The part of the commercial that annoys me is when the young doctor comes on and says, “We *will* find a way to regrow limbs.”  Granted, I haven’t lost a limb, but I pretty much live one-handed, and I don’t feel like I miss out on a whole lot. I actually wrote about this in article right before Christmas, about how I’d once talked with a woman online who couldn’t understand why her blind date hadn’t told her before their date that he was missing a hand. I suggested that perhaps he was fine with the fact that he was missing a hand and didn’t see any need to tell her. But clearly she’d had a problem with it.

When I hear things like, “We *will* find a way to regrow limbs,” I feel the same way. I feel like it’s society saying to people who have lost a limb, “We have a problem with you being like this, so we are going to cure you,” when many of these people may not a problem at all with how they are living.  Society has the problem with the disability, not the person living with the disability.

Lost a Limb: Accessibility Woes

Not that navigating society without a limb isn’t difficult, particularly if one has to use a wheelchair. However, much of that difficulty with being in a wheelchair happens because accessibility is so slowly becoming a priority.  I can speak from experience on this one…it’s not so miserable being in a wheelchair when buildings, spaces and transportation are accessible. Again, it’s been society’s problem with people with disabilities that’s made having disabilities difficult. Thank goodness that’s changing.  It will be interesting to see whether medical science can regrow a limb by the time that all Ontario buildings have to be physically accessible (2025).

Lost a Limb, But Still OK!

I’m fine with having little function in my left arm and hand. There are some things that I obviously can’t do, but I manage. I went through a process of becoming fine with who I am with those impairments, as I imagine I would if I lost a limb.

Perhaps some people would welcome medical interventions that took away their disabilities. I’m not saying I wouldn’t try an intervention myself if it could bring back a lot of function in my arm and hand. But the blanket assumption that all people who have lost a limb want/need to be “cured” bothers me. It suggests that they’re not good enough, or can’t have productive, fulfilled lives,  the way they are right now.

And that’s simply not true.

 

Comments are closed

International Day of Persons with Disabilities

International Day of Persons With Disabilities

international day of persons with disabilities

December 3  is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. It’s a day to celebrate the contributions of people with disabilities and to raise awareness about their rights.

I knew that I wanted to blog about this in some way today, and I spent a lot of time thinking about it last night, and kept coming back to what Michael Bloomberg saying that having making all the cabs in New York accessible wasn’t necessarily what people with disabilities wanted.

What Do People With Disabilities Want?

I’m not a scholar in the field, but I’ve worked with people with disabilities for over fifteen years, and I’ve been living with my own disabilities for over a decade. I think that our needs are fairly simple.

  1. Access to Buildings When we’re cut off from buildings and from areas in buildings, we’re cut off from experiences and from participating fully in the community. We don’t have choices and opportunities that everyone else has.
  2. Access to Resources The current struggles to make web pages more accessible, to make menus easier to read, to make the justice system more navigable, etcetera, seem like overkill to some people without disabilities. But when you can’t see a computer webpage because you’re red-green colour-blind, or you can’t read a menu because the print is too small, or you can’t don’t understand what your public defender is saying to you because you’ve got an intellectual disability, you’re at a distinct disadvantage because of your disability.
  3. Respect for Rights and and Knowledge of Responsibilities  People with disabilities need to live in communities where, like everyone else, they have rights and responsibilities. People with disabilities, adults and children, are at a much greater risk for bullying or assault, sometimes by people are supposed to be taking care of them (paid and unpaid). Abuse can come in all forms (verbal, sexual, financial, violation of privacy, theft). Other rights that get disrespected are as follows: the right for a person to make their own decisions about their life, to be in relationships, to try new things, and to make health and/or money decisions. People with disabilities deserve to have rights abuse allegations take seriously, and need to understand that they have the responsibility to behave in ways that respect others’ rights. Failure to do so will result in consequences for them, just as it would for people without disabilities.
  4. Opportunities to be a Part of the Community  Everyone has ways that they can contribute. Community members need to be open to having all sorts of people as volunteers and employees in the community and makes everyone feel welcome at community events.
  5. People-Centred Supports for Assistance When Necessary  Not everyone needs help all the time, but sometimes something comes up with which people need assistance. It’s always nice to know that someone will be there if you need, whether it’s a paid or non-paid support.
  6. Income Support for Those that Can’t Work That Actually Reflects the Current Cost of Living  The amount that individuals receive on the Ontario Disability Support Program  leaves them at a poverty level.

The Challenges

Right now, setting up frameworks within communities where we can ensure that these five things are adequately addressed costs is taking a lot more time than it should. I believe it’s at least partly because educating governments about the importance of getting funding to help address these issues is taking a long time. It’s simply not high-priority.

And I think that’s partly because you can’t appreciate how vital these issues are until you’ve lived them.  I know from experience that it’s difficult to realize how frustrating it is not to be able to get into a favourite restaurant in a wheelchair until you’re in that position.

I didn’t know until a couple of days ago that International Day of Persons with Disabilities existed, and I hope it will bring some much-needed awareness to what still needs to be done.

On the lighter side, here are some people with disabilities whose accomplishments we really need to celebrate on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities:

  1. Rick Hansen
  2. Christopher Reeve
  3. Albert Einstein
  4. Terry Fox
  5. Stephen Hawking
  6. Michael J. Fox
  7. Helen Keller
  8. Ludwig Van Beethoven
  9. Thomas Edison
  10. Charles Darwin

More about the International Day of Persons with Disabilities:

http://www.un.org/disabilities/default.asp?id=1561

Comments are closed

Accessibility and Priorities

I never said that I wouldn’t comment on Canadian politics. :)

Not Politics, Per se – More About Accessibility…

accessibility

Canadian Parliament Buildings

…and the level of disability awareness and priority of disability issues within our political system.

I saw two stories on www.ctv.ca yesterday that intrigued me. The first was a piece about how the carpet in the House of Commons really lowers accessibility in the House for NDP Member of Parliament Manon Perreault. She finds it very difficult to get over the thick carpet in her wheelchair. I didn’t even know that any of our MP’s used a wheelchair, but there are apparently two: Perreault, and Conservative MP Steven Fletcher. A lot of the article was devoted to their thoughts on whether they would work together…because, you know, it’s only natural that they would world work together, both having disabilities, even though they’re from different parties, and his first language is English while she speaks almost exclusively French. After all, don’t all people with disabilities enjoy each other’s company (I’m laying the sarcasm on really thick, for people that haven’t got it yet. The assumption that people with disabilities should want to do things together just because they have disabilities is a big pet peeve of mine.)

http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/Canada/20111001/wheelchair-bound-mp-fights-commons-carpet-111001/

Back to accessibility: They’re obviously improved accessibility in the House of Commons and and made changes to its procedures to accommodate Perreault’s wheelchairs (which I’m assuming is manual). But if she still  has to rely on a page to push her through the carpet to her place in the House…it’s not an accessible space for her.  For a government that (rightfully) insists that the places it runs (like post offices) have a high level of accessibility, that’s not acceptable.

Business Cards with *What* on Them?

And meanwhile:

http://edmonton.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20110930/john-baird-gold-business-cards-110930/20110930/?hub=EdmontonHome

Minister of Affairs John Baird just got $428.88 for from the government for gold-embossed business cards.

I believe that he’s rightfully taking a lot of flack for it, and it’s not just because I don’t support the Conservatives. I don’t believe that gold-embossed business cards are necessary for anyone accepting public money. But that’s another debate, really. Here’s how I link it back to accesibility:

We’ve got two individuals in Parliament who use wheelchairs, and 306 who, as Fletcher said in the in the first ctv.ca article to which I linked, don’t know very much about the needs of people with disabilities.  Now, the $428.88 that John Baird spent on his business cards won’t go far to remedy that, but it’s the wasted money that bothers me. Before taxpayer money goes to things like that, is money going to educate MP’s about any potential needs that their colleagues with disabilities may have while the House of Commons is sitting? What about the needs of their constituents with disabilities (a number that will keep increasing as the population ages)?

Do the MP’s in Ontario, for example, know about the deadlines for making public and private businesses completely accessible under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act? Could they talk about those deadlines with their constituents?

There are a lot of things that need money right now. Gold-embossed business cards are just too much of a luxury for taxpayer money.

Comments are closed

Living with Spinal Muscular Atrophy in India – Guest Blogger


Today we have a guest post by Pratyush Nalam. Pratyush lives in India, where attitudes toward integrating people with disabilities into society are much different than they are in Canada and the United States. Thank you, Pratyush, for sharing your story with us,

Being differently abled – An Indian Point of View

Hello everyone!! I am Pratyush Nalam, an 18-year old guy living in Mumbai, India. I have just finished high school and entered college for my undergrad. It is wonderful of Sarah to allow me to share my story on this blog.

I suffer from a disability called Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) which is a neuro-muscular and genetic disorder. It essentially means that I cannot walk due to the general weakness of my muscles. I also cannot lift any weight heavier than a one litre bottle. I am confined to a wheelchair and cannot move on my own. This disorder has no cure so I will never be able to walk.

Nonetheless, this hasn’t stopped me from doing anything and I always live life to the fullest.
My parents have been a pillar of support for me and have ensured that I don’t miss out on anything in spite of my disability. They have fought for me to get admission into normal schools. You might find this surprising being in the West, but it is a different story here in India and other developing countries. Schools are reluctant to give admission to students like me because an additional responsibility is placed on their head. This is in contrary to Europe and America where schools are positive about admitting any type of students and go to great lengths to ensure the child is taken care of even if he has special needs. Nevertheless, I must add that I am grateful to the schools I have studied in. They have taken good care of me and I am really indebted to them.

Challenges in Society

Living with a disability here in India (or any developing country for that matter) presents its own set of challenges. The first and foremost is accessibility. This has been the single biggest problem for me right throughout my life. You have steps everywhere but ramps will be present only in a few places. It is a great headache every time I go out. I have to think twice before going out whether it is for a movie, for shopping or just to have dinner at a restaurant. This is the reason I have always used a manual wheelchair instead of a motorised one. Life is much simpler because manual ones are lighter and it is easier for people to life when there are steps.

Another major issue is the attitude of the people themselves. People look at you in a different light whenever they see you in a wheelchair. They show unnecessary sympathy but no empathy. Moreover, you get all sorts of stares when you go out. You get the why-is-this-guy-in-a-wheelchair look as if it is a sin to be in a wheelchair and not be able to walk. There are even people who think that there is something mentally wrong with me. I have had persons asking my parents if I can hear and talk! I mean what nonsense is this! It is a Herculean task to make people understand that I only have a physical disability and my mental facilities are in perfect, working condition.

The Importance of Attitude

These challenges are faced on a day-to-day basis not just by me but anyone who faces a physical disability. Awareness among the common man is extremely low in such issues. Anyway, now I have entered college. I study at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay in the field of Computer Science Engineering. The field of technology has been my passion since childhood and hence, I have chosen the aforementioned branch. The institute has been very kind to me and they have been provided me with a motorised wheelchair to travel within the campus as distances on campus are very large. Ramps are present at most places and they have promised to build the remaining ones so that I don’t face any difficulty.

Living with a disability has not stopped me from living life just like anyone else but with some modifications. Life has been generally good and I am grateful to God for whatever I have. I also thank Sarah for allowing me to contribute to her blog. I also blog at  http://reflectionspn.wordpress.com/. It is a more general blog and I blog on all topics. You are free to contribute to my blog too. You can contact me at reflectionspn@gmail.com  or follow me on twitter at http://twitter.com/pratnala.

Comments are closed

The Right Thing to Do

I’m currently writing an article for another website about website accessibility. It’s a learning experience for me, because I really don’t know a whole lot about website accessibility. I’ve interviewed a man who does, though, and I was really impressed by his level of commitment to accessibility testing for websites.

Why Accessibility?

People ask about accessibility (for physical spaces and for websites), “Why should we go through the cost and effort for something that’s going to benefit such a small group?”  The simple answer is, as I’ve discussed elsewhere, is that when you use the principles of universal of design, whether it’s for a physical space or a space on the Internet, you benefit everybody – even people without disabilities who, for whatever reason, have an easier time accessing the space when universal design is available.

For example, people with visual disabilities often find that the option to change the font size on a website allows them to find the way for them to best view the website. A person prone to headaches may also find that being able to increase the font reduces the incidence of their headaches. Or, a person like me who finds that software video tutorials simply move too fast may prefer to read the transcript provided for people with hearing impairments, even though my hearing is fine.

So, a well-designed, accessible site can potentially draw a lot of people to it.  The accessibility of the website may be what wins out when, say, a person who is red-green colourblind is trying to decide from which online store to purchase clothing, or when a person with a severe hearing impairment is trying to decide from which educational institution to take online courses.  These may seem like isolated incidents, but for a website that’s counting on a high traffic over the long-term to survive, the “isolated incidents” are going to add up. Businesses especially can’t afford *not* to look at an accessible website, any more than they can’t afford not to look at being as physically accessible as possible.

The Right Thing to Do

And then there’s the argument that accessibility, both physical and on the Internet, is just the right thing to do.

When I was waiting around after my first stroke and between my surgery to see what what the doctors wanted to do next, I volunteered at a social services agency in the area.  I had a discussion one day with one of the employees about physical accessibility. I said that I understood why, in a town full of such small businesses that struggled from season to season, making their buildings physically accessible was too much to take on financially.

“I don’t.” he said. He talked about how there were government grants to make buildings accessible, and how inaccessible buildings were a form of discrimination.

“You really think so?” I said.

“I certainly do,” he said. He went on to talk about how if the business people in the town really thought that people in wheelchairs were good enough to be in their establishments, they’d find a way to make their establishments acceptable.

It was truly a different way of looking at the issue for me.  And I have to admit that after spending a year in a wheelchair, I’ve become much more militant about physical accessibility issues, especially in businesses.  As a person with disabilities, my money is just as good as anyone else’s; if a business doesn’t want to make me feel comfortable in its store (or doesn’t want to even ensure that I can get in; I *have* run into this), then I’ll take my money to a business that will.

I imagine that after I finish writing this article, I’ll be looking at websites in a new way, too. And I certainly have some work to do on this website.

Because it’s the right thing to do.

Comments are closed

Again…time for something completely different…

I went to see “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” over the week-end.

A Bit of a Review

brain avmI really liked this installment of the “Potter” series (the final one in the series). I’ve been avoiding the films since the third one; there was something about that one that made me really sad. But this one I liked. The performances were very strong, the special effects were well-done, the 3D really enhances it…and, even though I haven’t seen the first part of “The Deathly Hallows”, having read the book several years ago was just enough to keep me from being totally lost in the plot. I missed the significance of a couple of small things, but I never felt absolutely clueless.

It’s not a movie for children who are easily frightened. Lots of snake footage and  and character deaths and things jumping seemingly right at you because of the 3-D.

(Funny story about being startled in movies: For the first year or so after having my stroke, anything that startled me would make my weak arm literally “jump” from wherever it was resting, sometimes right up in the air.  And everyone had to sit on my left in movie theatres because of the way the wheelchair seating is set up. My family must have thought I was either trying to smack someone or going into a seizure.)

Where Are the Wizards With Disabilities?

Back to Harry Potter. It occurred to me as I watched that no one in the wizarding world uses any sort of mobility aid: no wheelchairs, canes, or prosthetic limbs, not even among the Muggle children at Hogwarts. And nothing set up so that a Muggle child with physical disabilities could attend if he or she wanted to:

  • Have to *run* through the wall at the train station to get through
  • Stairs, stairs, stairs galore at Hogwarts
  • No way to participate in Qidditch (presumably a student with disabilities could earn points for the house other ways, though)
I guess that there could be wizarding spells  that might help one overcome the effects of disabilities, even if it’s just for a short time…

Not The Point, Really

The point of integration in schools has always been teaching students without disabilities that the students with disabilities really aren’t that different than they are…about learning to see the person before the disability…about building a community that includes all people, not “fixing” the ones that have something “wrong” with them.
CNN recently calculated (and I have no idea where they came up with this figure) that it would cost $42 000 just in tuition per year to send a child to Hogwarts. Well, if  I’m spending that kind of money to send my kid to a wizarding school, I want he/she to come out a well-rounded wizard, including having access to wizards from other countries, faiths and lifestyles. And I definitely object to keeping otherwise eligible students out of the school just because they have disabilities.
So what say you, J.K. Rowling? Let’s have the answer.

 

 

 

Comments are closed

Stop Copying Plugin made by VLC Media Player