Voices of Change: Participatory Research in the United States and Canada

By Peter Park; Mary Brydon-Miller et al. | Go to book overview

8
Breaking Down Barriers: Accessibility Self-Advocacy in the Disabled Community

MARY BRYDON-MILLER

That's what I resent more than anything else is the minute someone sees you're handicapped, they mentally pick you up, put you in a box, mark the box "Handicapped," and put you way up on that shelf up there. Well, I'm sorry, but I have kicked off the cover of my box and I'm sitting up on that shelf yelling. Screaming and yelling, "Get me down from here, I've got too much to do!"

-- Mary Jane Kerr

Negative and patronizing societal attitudes have long made people with disabilities the object of oppression and discrimination in every facet of life. While society may no longer condone the practice of abandoning disabled infants to die of exposure on barren mountainsides, we have created a modern Mount Taygetus by our practice of excluding persons with disabilities from our very social awareness. Educational and employment opportunities have been withheld, political and social involvement discouraged, and even personal relationships and intimacy denied on the basis of disability. Disabled people, like the members of other groups which have experienced such discrimination, have in recent years begun to recognize the inequities inherent in this experience and to demand recognition and equal rights. The Independent Living Movement, which has developed over the past decade into a powerful political force, has achieved important advances both in insuring the rights of disabled people and in developing services and programs to enable disabled individuals to live as independently and actively as possible. A central tenet of the Independent Living Movement has been its emphasis on individual autonomy and personal control. Disabled individuals themselves determine where and how they will live, work, and play, and take responsibil

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