This is a really outstanding TV news story about employment of disabled people, from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). There are only two points I think should have been hit more solidly:
1. The profitability of hiring disabled workers, at least in the businesses shown, isn’t because they are paid less than non-disabled workers. The story notes that they are paid the same as other workers. I just wish they had repeated that a few more times.
2. The story also notes that these businesses aren’t sheltered or disability-only workplaces. The largest percentage I heard was, I think, 40% disabled workers at the Walgreens distribution center. That means that the majority of workers are non-disabled, so these are competitive, integrated jobs.
I'm not feeling too well today, so I'm spending the day with some streaming entertainment from Netflix and Hulu. I am finally watching a fairly famous British TV show from the early '90s, Jeeves and Wooster, starring Hugh Laurie (who later played Dr. House on House), and Stephen Fry. Laurie plays a young, single, upper class flibbertigibbet named Bertie Wooster, and Frye plays his suave, outwardly deferential, but benignly cunning Valet, Jeeves.
I bet there are a lot of disabled people who would give up quite a lot of other supports if they could be replaced by a fully paid, full-time Valet. Or, to be completely proper about it, a Valet for men, and a Lady's Maid for women.
Imagine how much physically disabled people and chronically ill people would be able to accomplish with someone who would not only make us our breakfasts and help us get ready in the morning, but also make our transportation arrangements and either accompany us on our daily travels, or else stay behind, tidy up, and have a cup of tea ready for us when we come home exhausted. It's not just an amusing fantasy. Lots of severely disabled people have personal care aides that do some of these things. But a Valet or Lady's Made is different, and this Jeeves fellow seems like the perfect model. Among other things, he subtly sets his employer right when he's not at his best, (face it, we've all been there), but he never scolds, never lectures. Above all, Jeeves is always on the alert to make his employer's life go more smoothly.
I think that this old-fashioned model of personal service is a better model for most home care situations than, say, nursing. What most of us need every day is facilitation, not treatment. If this is "privilege", I think we disabled people need more of it.