Implementing a 21st Century Disability Policy
“Disability is Natural” is more than just a saying. It is a guide to how we – people with disabilities and our families – would like to interact with the world and how we would like the world to interact with us. Though what we are asking is simple – to have the same opportunities as anyone else – we realize the sea-change this represents from our long and often troubled history in this country.
We are individuals, first and foremost, with our own individual cultures, tastes, emotions, wants, needs and opinions. We deserve the same access to education, medical care, social activities, employment opportunities, and transportation options as anyone. While we may rely on our families and/or communities to help us, it is everyone’s primary responsibility when making decisions on our behalf to ascertain our personal wishes and abide by them. This is how anyone would expect to be treated.
We recognize the huge task before us. From the moment a disability is diagnosed, society treats us and our families differently. This is true not only of laypeople, but even of many of the best-trained professionals and those with experience treating and interacting with people with disabilities. People with disabilities have rarely been treated as equals, as highlighted by our exclusion from America’s historic civil rights struggles.
Despite this history, we acknowledge the great advances that have been made and are optimistic that the future can and will be brighter still. We repeat: Disability is Natural. We have no doubt that society will one day appreciate this, but we intend to make it happen sooner rather than later.
Next: Guiding Principles