Tuesday, July 14, 2015

It's Refreshing

Illustration of a white 3-d stick figure sitting in a wheelchair at the bottom of a flight of stairs
Jeffrey Pfeffer, Fortune - July 14, 2015

Here we have a rare and refreshing thing. A business expert writes an article advocating stronger enforcement of disability rights laws, and it is published on a business magazine’s website.

What’s more, the writer, a non-disabled person who gained his initial insight through a temporary impairment, makes a stronger, simpler, more insistent case for disability rights laws than a lot of disability journalists, bloggers, and activists. Well, better than me anyway. I tend to hedge my advocacy posts with all sorts of caveats and acknowledgements of opposing views, something I think a lot of us are conditioned to do.

We have to keep reassuring the “average reader” that we are rational and realistic. We know our issues rarely make it to the front burner. We know “most people” don’t really understand, so they can’t be blamed. We have learned to live with unnecessary injustice. We’re not happy about it, but we’re not surprised.

Maybe that’s why laypeople and newcomers to disability issues can sometimes speak with a clearer, louder voice. What they lack in authority they make up for in fervor and sheer astonishment. They see, more clearly and emotionally that than some veterans of the struggle, that disability discrimination and inaccessibility at this point isn't just wrong, it is surprising, and it's bizarre.

It doesn't happen that often, but when a non-disabled journalist does a disability story and instead of crying tears of pity, instead asks, basically, "Why the hell are things still so shitty for these people?"... well, it's refreshing.