Editor's Column - August 2007

It has been a month for reflection. From out of the blue, and for no apparent reason (that our state government has admitted to), the 35W bridge crossing the Mississippi River fell to its death, carrying with it uncounted people and their vehicles into the river. This is yet another reminder of how quickly our world can change. It should also remind us of how important it is to live in the moment and to cherish each moment; a disaster could be just over the next bridge. A friend told me that he was only a few cars away from being on the bridge when it collapsed. He was on his way to have dinner with family and says he now has a whole new appreciation for family and the time that he can spend with them. We get frequent reminders to appreciate our family, friends and all those people with whom we share our lives. This was a tragic one. We extend our deepest condolences to all the families and loved ones of those who were torn away in this sudden and shocking way.

Marcelo Cruz, a man who has had paraplegia for the past seven years, was in his van on that bridge and experienced (as reality) the nightmare that many of us have had: of being caught in our vehicle, in a potential catastrophe, without any way to get out. Cruz, thinking quickly, drove his vehicle into a concrete barrier, and it kept him from heading directly into the Mississippi River. With the help of a few other victims of this calamity, Cruz was brought to safety. Our deepest thanks to all the heroes that pulled Cruz and many children and adults to safety while risking their own lives.

A lot of news lately seems to center around debates about language that is hurtful. Often those accused of using such language reply that their use of offensive words is “in jest” and only meant as a joke. But for many, there is nothing funny about the derogatory, hurtful words that our society seems to have begun using much more frequently and that seem to slip off our tongues fairly easily. We recently even had an article submitted to us about the use of particular words, in which the person who was talking about how hard it is to hear certain words in turn called the people who used these words an offensive name. The less we use offensive or emotionally charged words, the less likely we are to have to hear these words from others. However, read the article in this issue, “Are We Linguistically Disabled?” What do you think? Do you agree with Mark Aronoff that sensitive language is “disabled” language?

We would like to start a “Young Writers Corner.” And with the school year starting, many of you, your children or friends will be heading back into the classroom. We want young people to consider, when doing their writing homework, to write something for Access Press. Share your stories! Share your first week of school with us! Send your articles and stories to access@testing.accesspress.org, and we will do our best to print them. Let teachers know about Access Press, and the “Young Writers Corner.”

We want to thank all the volunteer writers and financial contributors to Access Press for their continued help throughout this year. Also, we want to thank UCare Minnesota for sponsoring this month’s issue.

Hope you all have a good time at the State Fair. Look for Access Press in the Education Building in the State Council on Disability’s booth!