Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Worthwhile Article on the Disabled and the College Campus

In light of my earlier discussions of Asperger syndrome in the college environment and the issue the disabled as members of a minority group, I would like to present the following article by Deborah Kendrick, which appeared the other day in the Columbus Dispatch; it offers an interesting perspective on this line between being disabled and a minority, being like everyone else but just having a "different" mode of operation that needs to be taken into account by the general society. Ms. Kendrick describes her experience, as a blind person, going to college in the late 1960s. She did not have any form of disability support from her college. In fact her ability to go to school hinged on her ability to convince the college that she was not “disabled,” that despite the fact that she was blind she could operate more or less like other people and would therefore not be a problem.

Rather than simply lament how difficult her situation was and the need to grant those with disabilities special entitlements, Kendrick calls for a renewed sense of responsibility to match what they are given:

Students with disabilities are like others in their generation, and the sense of entitlement often towers above the sense of responsibility and accountability.
Students with disabilities need to learn about more than astronomy and Shakespeare. When rights are aligned with responsibilities, the campus will be a better training ground for life.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That's like Hungary in the late... 2000s? *headdesk* Seriously, I had two
blind classmates as a psych undergrad, and we became friends. Never mind
official support (there was none) - I have seen people tell them the most
outrageous things. There was a professor who flat out told one of them
that she should not take his course because he doesn't want a blind person
to pass his course. (This was a PSYCHOLOGY course, mind you.) She took the
course and got a good grade.

But I agree completely that supports can be abused. Rights should always
be paired with responsibilities. But for supports to be abused, first of
all they need to *exist*. I'm not sure they exist everywhere. Even she
notes that different US schools provide different accommodations (I think
giving students a free pass on certain courses is problematic, but that's
a different issue).