Monday, June 24, 2013

Disability Discrimination?

I saw this short film (below, 7 minutes) at the Arts and health Alliance of NJ meeting, and wanted to share it. It's called "Anything You Can Do."

It made reflect on both how I have discriminated or ignored people in wheelchairs, and also some of the stares and weird treatment and inappropriate comments I got when I was very ill (in the airport getting wheeled around and some kid goes "I wish I could get a ride." When I was still experiencing kidney failure and congestive heart failure and anemic, getting out of my van at the drugstore and a cop accosting me for using the handicapped space. Someone saying to me "I wish I could just lay in the bed and read.")

Sometimes people see the error of their ways. Once I was riding in the airport motorized cart, and this middle-aged couple saw me on there, so they asked the guy to stop because they were tired. I guess they saw a young person on the cart ("you don't look sick") and figured, "hey if she can get a ride, they must be giving them out to anyone.") When I struggled to get down from the cart, and pulled out my cane to steady myself, I could feel them recoiling. Because they had assumed one thing then quickly realized they were wrong. Of course, I got better. There are many people who never become fully ambulatory again.

One of the ways physically handicapped people are discriminated against/ left out is just by oversight. Sure, a lot of places (not all places!) have ramps now for wheelchair access, but where do those people sit once they are inside- like if it's a theatre? What about people who need walkers? One theater in West Orange, NJ, just renovated its Maurice Levin Theatre to accommodate more special needs guests. They reduced the number of total seats so that they now have 14 wheelchair spaces with companion seating, and 42 seats with spaces for walkers in front of them.

Comedian and speaker Brett Leake (http://www.brettleake.com/ ) has a wheelchair that morphs into standing position, so that he can look people in the eye and be part of the conversation. Otherwise, he's just looking at knees and crotches. That can only be fun for so long. I was once the short person at an outdoor all-day metalfest in July, at everyone's armpit level in the crush of people in front of the stage. It got old really fast.

Well, without further ado, here's the great little short film called "Anything You Can Do":



Carla Ulbrich

The Singing Patient: Author, Speaker, Humorous Songwriter and Entertainer

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