The Best of Disability Blogs and Banter
Do You Mind When People Ask?
Being in a wheelchair, you just can’t get away from the inevitable question — “What happened to you?” Out to eat, at school, even in the parking lot, no matter where you are, there will always be someone who will want to know “why.”
How do you feel when it happens? For me, it’s all about context. About four months ago, at my doctor’s office in a huge downtown hospital, the secretary decided to drop the “What happened to you” question when I got to the front of the line (and embarrassingly loud). She said, “Hello, what’s your name?” and then, after glancing at my legs, without skipping a beat she asked, “What happened to you?” Unexpected interrogation. Nice.
Suffice it to say, the secretary did NOT get an answer, but she did get something from me: A nice tongue lashing. In my mind, there really should be places where you are free from rude questions regarding your disability, and the doctor’s office should be included in this list.
The younger version of myself would have never had the courage to say what I said to her. But now — being older, wiser and more confident — the fear of “What will they say?” or “How will I be perceived?” no longer has a swaying power over me. To sum it up simply: I don’t care anymore if they think I’m a you know what. I no longer have patience for prying questions. If you don’t know me, you have no business asking. Everyone loves a dramatic sob story. I just refuse to entertain people with mine any longer.
— Tiffiny Carlson, blog.easystand.com
What Everyone’s Getting Wrong About Special-Ed Sports
Conservative pundits fearing federal overreach claim that President Obama is inventing a right to wheelchair basketball, that he’s forcing schools to start up such teams. He’s not. But the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights is doing something important, and hopefully it will prod more schools to give more students a way to participate in sports.
The new guidance makes clear that schools should work together to ensure that, if there is sufficient interest among disabled students in a district, these students are provided opportunities to participate in alternative sports, such as wheelchair tennis or, yes, wheelchair basketball. Contrary to the hysterics, the guidelines are not rigid requirements mandating alternative teams. And in states such as Maryland and Minnesota that have specific rules and laws already in place to ensure equitable access, the policy is not causing serious problems.
More fundamentally, given the relatively small scale of what we’re talking about here, parents and others worried about the dilution of dollars for school at