The Disabled Community Essay

962 words - 4 pages

In a society that demands perfection, and seems to shun those that can't fit the mold, many people's shortcomings can lead them to total desolation. Fortunately, many of the people that we would call disabled, cope with a life among the so-called "normal" people by seeking out an identity among people with similar disabilities. What leads the disabled community to form into such tightly knit groups, and why do some disabled people avoid them? There are a myriad of ailments that we, as physically complete, would call disabilities. The United States Census Bureau shows that in America alone there are almost 50 million people with some sort of disability. That accounts for nearly twenty percent of our population. With this in mind, what causes such a large portion of our population to be so frequently misunderstood, and shut out from living as the rest of us? There are many types of disabilities, and each one comes with a different set of limitations. For example, a sensory disability is one category that is used by the Census Bureau to group the disabled people they survey. There is a huge difference between the challenges faced by a deaf person as compared to a blind person, but notice that they are grouped in a way that only recognizes what they lack. In the past, if a deaf person could not read lips and talk, they were labeled deaf and dumb. Does it feel like people confined to wheelchairs, or the blind should get our immediate sympathy? It is this type of attitude and assumed courtesy that isolates disabled persons from the ordinary. The disability in anyone is not the sum of his or her being. Often the feeling of not being part of the normal society leads disabled people to find others that share a common affliction. Many times this experience can be like a new awakening to a world where they are truly understood, and accepted. One young man, on his first trip to the Maryland School for the Deaf, was quoted as saying, "For the first time I felt less like a stranger in a strange land and more like a member of a community"(Sacks 256). Even people outside their realm can be amazed at the way disabled people flourish once connected to their peers. In Oliver Sacks first trip to Gallaudet University for deaf people he was amazed to see the silent conversations, and the signing social scene. It seemed so strange and yet so normal that he came to a new perspective. He said, "I had to see all this for myself before I could be moved from my previous "medical" view of deafness (as a condition, a deficit, that had to be "treated") to a "cultural" view of the deaf as forming a community with a complete language and culture of its own."(237)....

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