Pushing past the world of prejudice
Published: Sunday, July 24, 2011
Updated: Sunday, July 24, 2011 15:07
It occurred to me the other day that the mindset others have about people with disabilities might be antiquated. We are now in 2011, and the disabled population has overcome many obstacles since the implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. They are not a population that is taking up space or sucking up taxpayer dollars. There are some people with disabilities, which due to the severity of their disability, are mostly at home with not much to do. However, this is not generally the case.
This is my third time at UCF, having already earned a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Science, and I have been disabled since birth due to cerebral palsy. I never thought that ignorance and fear would still be perpetrated in this day and age, especially in an educational atmosphere. I have been successful in past jobs, contributing to the community and have even helped others who are disabled achieve their goals.
It's a shame to me to read text that states the disabled cannot succeed in life. This is so far from the truth. People fear the unknown just because it is unfamiliar to them. When you expose people who are not disabled to this type of material, it makes them fear things that may or may not be there.
This is not the right approach to take on this issue. People who are disabled just have to accomplish things in life differently than those who are not disabled. A disabled child or adult is not a lost cause just because of the obstacles he or she faces in everyday life. I have known many people with disabilities who have had successful careers, families and lives. These people are not a burden to society. I, for one, have gotten married, own my own home, am currently starting a family and am embarking on a new career.
By no means has this been easy. On the contrary, I have had to overcome many obstacles and stereotypes to get where I am today. Just the other day during a trip to IHOP with my husband, people stared at me and made faces because of my now very pregnant belly and my cane, though things like this never stop me from doing what I want to do.
My goal is to not have other people with disabilities be discouraged if they happen to encounter these types of writings. If I were someone else, the texts I read that prompted the writing of this article would have probably made me give up on my dreams but, luckily, that's not who I am. Like I said before, the life I lead is filled with different obstacles at different times, but I don't give up. Who doesn't have obstacles to face, regardless of disability? They don't crawl in a corner and give up, do they? I am not any different. I feel very fortunate to say that I accomplish what I set out to do.
Others with disabilities can achieve their goals too. They just need to remember that all the hard work will pay off in the end. To people without a disability, I'd like to say that not everything you read about the disabled population is true. Yes, there are laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act in place, but they do not grant people with disabilities any special treatment. These laws just help us accomplish the same goals and dreams you have — on an equal playing field.