© July 2008 (1st Place, 50th National Disability and Rehabilitation Week Essay Writing Contest)
Who are the able ones? Are they those who have two eyes that could see, two ears that could hear, a tongue to speak, two sets of limbs to move around and a sound mind to complete the package?
Human rights. These are the two words that have repeatedly been violated throughout the history of mankind. The quest of man to make the most out of his existence has given him myopia. Turning a blind eye towards the rights of his own kind is normally convenient on his path to avarice. And what about the rights of those who are not always heard? What about those who couldn’t speak? Who would listen to them? For the “less able” ones – those persons with a disability (PWDs) – these words mean so much more.
The prejudice against PWDs has always been present in the society. With what the legislation of the Magna Carta for them, the strengthening of their organizations and the support of other people, especially politicians, it seems that the barrier that is brought about by their disability has been broken. Yet the prejudice, the mockery, the blind eye, the convictions and debates on who is normal and who is not are still there. Arguably, culture just taught society to be more discreet in committing these crimes rather than to erase them.
The battlecry of the PWDs to their right to access towards their success is more than the literal. It does not just ask the “more able” ones to help them gain access to buildings, public transportation, education, vocation and employment. More than that, it asks the more able ones gain access towards a prejudice-free mindset. The PWDs need not break another barrier, win another award or jump off a cliff just for people to accept them and for them to prove their meaningful existence. PWDs are humans, and humans have rights. “Normal” people should have access to such thought.
The battle cry also asks everyone to look beyond the physical and see that PWDs are not just people who need our help, but they too are just like any other person who laugh, cry, think, feel, dream dreams, and love. They are our brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, mentors and neighbors. They are essentially a part of our society.
Human rights. Normal. Access. I say those who mock these words are those who are impaired. For those who care for the rights of others, for those who never brand themselves as normal or not, and for those who does not undermine their freedom to access are those who are more complete and able than anyone else who claim that they are.