Does Disability Make a Person Less Valuable?
SHARE with Friend
Lately, I have had a couple of eye-opening experiences about disability. For one, while looking up a number of dictionary definitions for spina bifida, I noticed each called the condition either a "congenital defect" or a "birth defect."
That hooked me. For further clarification, I looked up the definition of "defect" on Merriam-Webster online. It said a defect was "a physical problem that causes something to be less valuable, effective, healthy, etc."
The same online dictionary, and others, also defined cleft lip, cleft palate, Down syndrome, and a whole host of heart problems as birth "defects." The Centers for Disease Control claims that "about one in every 33 babies is born with a birth defect." One website I found had a listing of hundreds of "defects" in people, ranging from deafness and intellectual disabilities to short limbs.
But do these differences and others really make a person "less valuable, effective, healthy, etc."?
A few weeks ago, I featured in a column Riva Lehrer, who was born with spina bifida. Instead of calling spina bifida a birth defect, which I had done numerous times over the years, I called it a condition. It would be a stretch to call Lehrer "less valuable" because of having spina bifida-or anyone with any disability being less valuable, for that matter. If anything, her condition helped make her more valuable to others. She has been a groundbreaking artist and writer about people with disabilities. What many people call a weakness, Lehrer has turned into a strength.
In 2002, my first newspaper column featured President Woodrow Wilson, who had dyslexia and couldn't read until age ten. His father helped him to compensate for his learning disability by coaching him to be an incredible public speaker. With dyslexia, he certainly wasn't less effective.
Which brings the question to mind: Is the word "disability" even accurate?
Again, Merriam-Webster online defines disability as "a condition (such as an illness or injury) that damages or limits a person's physical or mental abilities."
Primarily from writing this column eleven years, I could name off the top of my head dozens of people whose disability enhanced their lives and the lives of others.
Many people I interview wouldn't trade in their disability for anything. They became better people because their "disability" favorably re-directed their relationships, spirituality, careers or life purpose.
Print This Article
LittleGiantFudge.com and Palmer Bus Service make this column possible.
Daniel J. Vance is a licensed professional counselor and national certified counselor from Vernon Center, Minn. His weekly newspaper column Disabilities has been published in more than 260 newspapers.
Daniel J. Vance may be reached at www.danieljvance.com
Placer County News HeadlinesPlacer County Republican Party To Hold 2014 ConventionLOOMIS - The Placer County Republican Party will hold its endorsement convention on Aug. 23 to select which candidates to support for local offices in Placer County.
Job Fair in Roseville August 22ndRoseville, CA -- Multiple community agencies including Brandman University, The City of Roseville Libraries, Placer, Sacramento and El Dorado Counties, Golden Sierra Job Training, and Sacramento Works
Roseville Crime Report Digest Update (7.23.14)The Roseville Police Department weekly crime report digest update for July 23, 2014.
California Limits Full Contact Football for StudentsGovernor Jerry Brown signed into law AB2127 which limits, but does not eliminate full contact football practices for middle and high school students.
Beware of Deceptive Home Improvement OffersThe California Contractors State License Board (CSLB) is urging consumers to be aware of home improvement offers by individuals who use unethical business practices to gain entry into their homes
Continuous Improvement Network: August 6th & 20thSierra College CACT provides Value Stream Mapping Training in Sacramento on August 6 & 20 for the Continuous Improvement Network
Alternative Transportation Programs in Placer CountyPlacer County Transportation Planning Agency (PCTPA) is your resource for information about alternative transportation services in Placer County.
Auburn Woman Attacked Inside HomePlacer County sheriff's detectives are looking for a man who attacked a woman at her north Auburn home early this morning.
Western Nationals Softball Tournament in Roseville and LincolnASA Softball is bringing the Western Nationals for the Girls B 10U & 12U divisions to the Placer Valley Area. The event is six days long, taking place from July 28-August 3.
Tahoe Public Projects Garner AttentionTahoe Transportation District has been recognized nationally and by the state of Nevada for its positive impacts, collaborative initiatives, environmental enhancement, and service to the community's
Rocklin National Night Out Events August 5thEach community member is invited to join their neighborhood watch group and the Rocklin Police Department for National Night Out on Tuesday, August 5, 2014.
Recovery Plan for California Salmon and SteelheadNOAA Fisheries and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) jointly released two plans to restore populations of salmon and steelhead in California's Central Valley