Disability and Representation

Changing the Cultural Conversation

Disability Rights are Civil Rights

Imagine that you were simply living your life and someone attempted to exclude you from a public park. Or took your child away from you. Or urged you to sign a Do Not Resuscitate Order. Or told you to use the back door to a theatre. Or told you that you couldn’t come into a restaurant.

Now imagine that someone said or did any one of those things only because of your race. Or only because of your sexual orientation. Or only because of your ethnic origin. Or only because of your gender identity. Or only because of your socio-economic class.

You’d consider it a civil rights violation, wouldn’t you? And you would be right.

These are exactly the things that disabled people experience, every day, only because they are disabled.

Think disability isn’t a civil rights issue? Think again.

disability civil rights

[The graphic is a Bingo card with 25 squares.

Title: Disability Rights are Civil Rights

Top row: There are only three steps to get into the prom/theatre/polling place.
We have no elevators. It's an old building.
The wheelchair entrance is in the back.
Why don't we just carry you up the stairs?
He tased the nonverbal man when he wouldn't answer.

Second row: We're taking your child away because you're blind.
I can't hire people with disabilities. They'll need too much sick time.
Your service dog is not allowed in this restaurant.
Your child can't play in the park. His flapping disturbs the other children.
Are you sure you want me to do that basic life-saving surgery I do all the time?

Third row: Deafblind people may not fly without a caregiver.
If you keep asking me to provide accommodations, you'll have to find another doctor.
Welcome to the Free Space. One Flight Up.
Contact the Disability Support Office when your condition has improved.
You can't fly first-class. It will upset the other passengers.

Fourth row: You're going to sign a DNR before your operation, aren't you?
You can use the freight elevator. Watch out for the trash.
You can't enter the museum. Your wheelchair will dirty the floor.
The handicapped don't come here anyway.
If your child has Asperger's, Doctor Smith will add a $50 surcharge per visit.

Last row: If I make this special exception for you, I'll have to do it for everyone.
Sorry for the lack of access, but you're welcome to have a drink outside.
We're only giving these lungs to a kid who will grow up to be a tax-paying citizen.
The elevator is out of service indefinitely.
I attacked him because he was acting retarded.

The text below the graphic reads www.facebook.com/DisabilityAndRepresentation.]

© 2013 by Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg


    3 comments already | Leave your own comment

  1. 12/22/2013 | 1:34 am Permalink

    On the whole, I like this bingo card very much!

    However, it should be noted that there is often confusion about the “DNR” form because of its name.

    A doctor friend assures me that the form actually covers a lot of important information and that it is standard to ask major surgery patients to fill them out. Also, despite the name, the form can specify that all possible lifesaving measures SHOULd be taken.

    While it is true that disabled people are often devalued by medical professionals and even urged not to accept lifesaving measures, simply asking a patient to fill out a DNR is not an example of this type of pressure.

    Respond to this comment

    • 12/22/2013 | 1:41 am Permalink

      EDIT to the above:

      Trying to figure this out further, I come across various complications. It seems that different medical systems use the term “DNR form” and “DNR order” differently than others.

      As far as I know, it’s still standard procedure in most places to offer that form to people who are going to undergo a major medical procedure or who are at high risk of heart attack or stroke. Depending on the medical system, too, different levels of life-saving attempt are prohibited by differnt DNR orders.

      I am officially confused now.

      Respond to this comment

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