Disabilities Columnist Seeking to Break Stereotypes
If you're brand new here, you probably have been wondering what's going on. Instead of disability-related issues, ax-grinding, or political agenda-driving, this newspaper column just features real people with disabilities and their lives.
I say "real" because the mainstream media, in general, have a tendency to portray most everyone with a disability they feature as victims, objects of pity or superheroes, as if having a disability was the worst thing anyone could have and therefore needed an emotional or Rocky Balboa-like story line.
The media portray people with disabilities as victims or objects of pity when they repeatedly say a person "suffers" from a disability or that another is "confined" to a wheelchair, for instance. "Suffer" and "confined" are almost always the reporter's words and not those of the person featured. As for the former, yes, some people do physically suffer, but many people with disabilities don't and many view their disability as an asset.
In 2008, I featured Olympian Bruce Jenner (he was Bruce back then), who said about his learning disability, "If I had been an average student or reader, I wouldn't have needed sports. As time went on, there was always this little dyslexic kid in the back of my head who would try to outwork the next guy. It was part of the process of the makeup of me. I believe I wouldn't have won gold in the Olympics if not for being dyslexic."
Also, do wheelchair users really feel "confined" to wheelchairs? Most don't. Their wheelchair offers mobility and freedom. In truth, most people using a wheelchair feel "confined" when their wheelchair isn't around.
In terms of superheroes, you often see reporters use words like "inspirational" or "courageous" to describe a person with a disability, yet many I know prefer being viewed as "regular" people and don't much like those adjectives.
I want my readers to acquire a realistic feel for different people with disabilities and ultimately that must involve breaking stereotypes. People with disabilities aren't a homogeneous group. The disability "community" has never been unified, but is politically conservative and liberal, rich and poor, old and young, married and not, Dallas Cowboys fans and not. People with disabilities aren't all alike.
It's these media-generated stereotypes that often build relational walls between people with disabilities and everyone else, which adds yet another needless layer of inaccessibility for a person with a disability to navigate. That's something we all don't need.
Sponsored by Blue Valley Sod.
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 HeadlinesBottleRock Napa Valley Lineup of Restaurants, Wineries, and Artisanal Craft Breweries & DistilleriesNAPA, CA, - Situated in the heart of America's wine and food playground, BottleRock Napa Valley, presented by JaM Cellars, has once again tapped into the region's renowned culinary talent
Thunder Valley Casino Hiring for Janitorial and HousekeepingLincoln, CA,- Thunder Valley Casino Resort is hiring for Janitorial and Housekeeping positions at a Job Fair on Wednesday,
School Strategies for Children with ADHD and ASD(Sacramento, Calif.) - On Wednesday, Jan. 24, the UC Davis MIND Institute and its Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities will host "School strategies for children with ADHD and ASD
916 Dialing Changes are Coming SoonOn February 09, 2017, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved an overlay that will add the new area code 279 to the 916 area code region
Tree Harvest Festival billed as Northern California's first Cannabis Harvest FestivalWoodland, CA- We are proud to present Northern California's first Cannabis Harvest Festival. We will celebrate the 420 holiday with Music, Art, and Education
Mitsubishi Outlander remains affordable SUVRoseville, CA,- Cost-conscious car shoppers should give the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander a look because it can be driven off the dealer lot for a very reasonable price.
Free Tax Assistance for Eligible ResidentsRocklin, CA- For the third year Placer County Health and Human Services will provide free tax assistance to low-income individuals and families, in cooperation with the IRS and United Way
New Year Marks New Era for Middle Fork ProjectAubrun, Calif.- As the clock struck midnight on January 1, Placer County Water Agency's (PCWA) Middle Fork Project (MFP) marked a momentous occasion 55 years in the making
Flu Season Tips and When to Seek Medical AttentionAuburn-This flu season, there are more ways than ever to access health care-including walk-in care, your primary care physician and the hospital emergency department
WJU Second Half Comeback Defeats OaksATHERTON, Calif. - Jessup men's basketball took their shortest road trip of conference play to Norcal opponent Menlo College, still looking to clinch their first GSAC victory
Jim Holmes selected Placer County Board of Supervisors chairAuburn, CA,- District 3 Supervisor Jim Holmes was chosen to serve as chair of the Placer County Board of Supervisors for 2018 by his fellow board members
Loomis Soroptimist Hosts Designer Purse Fundraiser on January 24(LOOMIS, CA) - The Fifth annual "It's in the Bag" designer purse event benefiting Soroptimist International of Loomis Basin will be held on Wednesday, January 24, 2017