Letters to the Editor - July 2010

‘Disability culture’ hurts

Disability is a reference group, not a culture. People of a culture exhibit similar values and beliefs. This cannot be said for the disability community. We all value independence, but beyond that we are very diverse. Some value participation in the mainstream fabric of society. Others are more comfortable within the disability community. Some believe success is theirs for the taking, while others believe society is against them. Disability is a reference group. A reference group is a group of people an individual, respects, identifies with, or aspires to join. People with disabilities can identify with one another, and often respect peers. So please stop using the term Disability Culture.

The term Disability Culture is hurting us. It sets us apart from society in the same way people who do not speak English are separated from our society. People snicker and say, “If you’re going to live here learn the language.” People have trouble getting needs met because of this pro-American attitude. If we assimilate into society like other immigrants and show we want to participate, we will be taken more seriously by society.

It seems like every legislative session programs for people with disabilities come under scrutiny, and in times of economic crisis are forced to endure budget cuts. The Personal Care Attendant program is an example. Legislators were debating requiring the need for assistance in two Activities of Daily Living to be eligible to receive services. This would have negatively impacted many people on the low end of the service continuum, and forced them to go without. By upholding the ideal of disability culture, we send a message to legislators that we are different from everybody which negatively impacts how our programs are viewed.

Lisa Baron
New Hope
MSW Student
Augsburg College

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Access is difficult

I live on Park Avenue in Minneapolis in a HUD building where there are people in wheelchairs, like myself, also people with hearing loss. To catch a city bus, Route 5, we need to cross Park Avenue and Chicago Avenue, and it has heavy traffic. On Park Avenue there are signs for wheelchairs, but nobody stops or slows down. It’s the same on Chicago Avenue. They now have yellow flashing lights on the east side sidewalk but the button to activate them cannot be easily reached. Since you have to go into the dirt to reach the button and the dirt is very loose the chair will sink and get stuck.

A person is going to get killed here. It is just a matter of time.

Bernie Hernandez-Chavez
Minneapolis

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