Allen RuckerI wake up every morning with the same troublesome question rolling around in my fervid brain: Are Americans with disabilities making progress or sliding backwards? In other words, is the disability glass half-full or half-empty? It’s perplexing. Case in point: A wheelchair user gets elected governor of Texas. Half-full! The same guy doesn’t give a hoot about people with disabilities and wouldn’t lift a finger to help them. Half-empty. Or another: Last year there were 11 regular disabled characters on network television, up from seven the year before. Half-full! If one show gets canceled, the number falls to six. Half-empty.

You get the point. It’s hard to pin this stuff down. For every advancement, there is a contrary decline. If you disregard the sordid past and just look to the future, you still don’t know what to think. In the future, there will be more wheelchair users who are better educated, healthier, and wiser in all ways. But also in the future, Ron Paul could be the president and he is on record favoring the complete abolishment of the ADA. Yikes. We are clearly in the murky terrain between unabashed success and a return to the backwaters — and nursing homes — of history.

Call me a dreamer, but I’m on the half-full side of the fence, so I am always on the lookout for anything that might promise a better future for the disabled. If I see a wheelchair user in a beer commercial, I say to myself, “Wow, this is real progress. We can