It's More Than Just Ease of Access
There are parts of disabilities that are just not clear to most people. The very things that make it hard for someone with a handicap can be the exact same reasons why someone short – like me – has a bit of a tough time in an overcrowded bus where there are no seats available and I am stuck standing in a spot where only that very high placed bar, close to the ceiling, is placed. I reach, but I barely touch it, and end up bumping into people all the time. Then, those who are tall enough but stay sitting, won’t let me have their seats and complain bitterly if my large purse accidentally smacks them in the face. Then, there is the issue of finding grown-up shoes for my tiny size 5 feet. Sigh. The upside of being in Colombia at the moment: I’m actually average height here, and in some cities, I even feel tall-– me and my tiny 5’3 stature.
You see, the world is built for ordinary people. By this, I mean everything is averaged-out for the people who fit into the median. How many people can truly comfortably sit on a city bus? How many obese people have to stand because theys just can’t fit on one seat? I’m not saying this to be rude or try to poke fun at anyone, but it’s true.
Now, think about how most can’t go beyond the ordinary height and weight. If they don’t know anyone who is handicapped, most don’t realize how much they are leaving people out unwittingly. If we thought about disabilities in the sense that they are people just like us who deserve access anywhere, how many individuals with disabilities would feel much freer? How many would go so far as to claim that their ‘lack’ is not a handicap, but merely a physical difference? Blind people, Deaf people, those who only need but a bit of assistance for walking, and countless others would not even notice the difference if they had access to easy communication, the ability to move through places without obstacles, and didn't have to climb stairs.
Too many people also view disabilities as something that is just "wrong". I can’t shake the argument I had wth a man who said that technology is an incredible tool because a woman could abort a pregnancy simply because her baby had some sort of disability. I disagree with this; we need differences. We need to be reminded that we are not all the same. We need to see variety of people and learn to appreciate them. We need to celebrate individuals with disabilities, the same way we celebrate differences in sexual orientation and culture.
To me, equality goes beyond just maintaining easy access. The world’s mentality needs a change of programming. We need to learn to accept people as they are and not always try to "fix" them. We need to let people live as they want and not dictate to them what they should do. We need to see each other as humans, not a disability with a medical barcode.