My Family's Fight for Educational Equality Has Driven My Commitment to Human Rights Advocacy and Public Service: Prepared for the London School of Economics

The Exceptional Parent, March 2012 | Go to article overview

My Family's Fight for Educational Equality Has Driven My Commitment to Human Rights Advocacy and Public Service: Prepared for the London School of Economics


On December 10th 1948, Eleanor Roosevelt's tireless efforts to propel human rights into our consciousness, culminated in the United Nations adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Ten years later on March 27th 1958, in her remarks before the United Nations she asked: "Where, after all, do universal human rights begin?" Though I look forward to delving deeper into this question as a Human Rights scholar at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), I am no stranger to the groups and movements from which Eleanor's inquiry was born. Very much like the experiences of women, and African Americans, millions of people with disabilities have been subjected to intense discrimination.

At six years of age I realized that my twin sister Alba and I were different because we could not walk and she was nonverbal. Raising us alongside our non-disabled siblings, my parents made it their mission to teach all of us that despite Alba and I being born with cerebral palsy, we were all equal. Their desire to instill in us the reality of the challenges that lay ahead never overshadowed their tireless effort to remind us that we were deserving of the same opportunities as everyone else. The family dynamic that my parents had carefully constructed within our home fell apart the moment my sister and I rolled out of our front door. Twenty years later, society continues to perpetuate the idea that people with diabilities are less capable, less intelligent, and even less than human, thus allowing people to comfortably deny us civil rights and equal opportunity in all aspects of our lives.

Prior to the start of the disability rights movement, our community was marginalized, and our needs were not addressed at all. We were often dealt with separately from the rest of society. One of the most significant obstacles to our fully integrating into, and enjoying the benefits of mainstream society, is accessibility. The inaccessibility of public places to people in wheelchairs, the blind, deaf, non-verbal, and others is so common, that people with disabilities are rarely seen in public. Every outing has to be carefully planned ahead of time to ensure that once we get to our destination, we can actually get in the door. As a child I remember having to call movie theaters and stores in New York City to see if they were accessible before going to visit with my friends.

Transportation is always an issue. Unlike non-disabled individuals, I can never just hop in a cab and go. Accessible taxis are few and far between, and the buses that are accessible often refuse to take us. To avoid having to inconvenience other passengers, the driver will often claim that the wheelchair lift is broken, and will drive away giving us no choice but to wait for the next bus. Many facilities are equipped with elevators and lifts, but they are often broken, and the staff do not know how to operate them. People with disabilities face not only the challenges of getting into a facility, but also accessing the services therein provided to the general public. The school system is one of the worst offenders.

In 1992 I attended a private school funded by New York State on Long Island, only for children with disabilities. When they refused to accept Alba, my mother took me out of the school. When questioned by the principal as to why she was removing me, my mother said she could not allow me to go to a school that discriminated against my twin. While she is more physically disabled than I, Alba had an IQ of 132, just like me. They insinuated that she was cognitively impaired.

Returning to the local district in New York City, my mother placed me in a mainstream elementary school classroom at PS 234 where Alba had been in a segregated classroom for several years. Her teachers struggled to educate a group of students with disabilities from different age groups and presenting huge disparities in levels and types of disability. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

My Family's Fight for Educational Equality Has Driven My Commitment to Human Rights Advocacy and Public Service: Prepared for the London School of Economics
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.