These Are Your Rights

December 4, 2013

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The thing about disabilities is that, unlike race, gender, or sexual orientation, disability will affect each and every one of us personally at some point in our lives.

You may not end up in a wheelchair, but one day you’ll have to slow down. You may not go deaf, but someday you’ll hear a little less than you used to. You may not go blind, but a time may come when you need glasses to read, drive, or do any or all of the things you once took for granted. That’s why you should care about disability rights.

They are your rights.

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I Choose to Live

January 23, 2013

I was given another opportunity to speak up for the disability community today.

We were discussing the ethics of abortion and genetic screening of the unborn fetus in philosophy class today. We ended up debating the ethics of aborting a fetus with a known disability or genetic disorder.

I could not keep my mouth shut. Not one to sit quietly while discussion treads upon the fine line, I spoke up. I looked at my classmates as I explained the nature of my disease and the effects it had on myself, my parents, my siblings and my friends.

I continued elaborately explaining how the people I’ve worked with and met as a volunteer at a therapy center for children with developmental disabilities, a tutor at my state’s school for the deaf and an advocate with my state’s coalition of self-advocates has shaped my views. From the woman with no hands who paints better than I ever could to the man who could not hear the beautiful music he created. From my deaf mentor whose own disability inspires his scientific curiosity as a professor of medicine to the wheelchair bound law student I recently had the privilege of getting to know over coffee.

These amazing people did not get to choose the hand they were dealt, yet they play one hell of a game anyway. To even think that they could be denied the chance to shine because society has not yet come to terms with reality brings tears to my eye and my heart. The reality is that disability does not play favorites. Everyone will experience disability in one way or another in their lifetime.

When asked by one of my classmates what I would have chose knowing I’d be born with this horrible disease, I responded simply,

“I Choose to Live.”

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