This is the second part of a multi-part series of posts on disability and politics. My aim is to air out some thoughts and ideas that I think are important for disabled people to consider as we here in the U.S. gear up for another General Election in 2016. We all have our own political beliefs and natural leanings, which probably don’t change much just because we have disabilities. Still, having disabilities does give us insight into some important political and policy questions … insight that others might not have.
At the same time, I think that we are also sometimes vulnerable to some popular political opinions that tend to make us feel less important, less worthy of consideration and even political power than we should be as disabled citizens.
Take these thoughts for what they are, ideas to chew over.
Part 2: Rights, Not Privileges
- As disabled people, we sometimes get confused about the difference between rights and privileges, between accommodation and favors.
- Because equality for disabled people usually requires being treated differently, you will sometimes hear accessibility, accommodations, and supports described, in a mean way, as “special privileges.” The idea is that things like handicapped parking, workplace accommodations, and financial supports make our lives easier than everyone else’s.
- You have the right to accessibility and individual accommodations to your disability. These are not privileges you have to earn. They are not favors you have to rely on kind people to do for you. They get you closer to equality, not superiority or higher privilege.
- You earn human kindness and friendships by being a nice person. You may find you can earn an easier life, including some luxuries, by hard work and ingenuity. But you don’t have to earn your continued existence, or equal respect and opportunity.