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Forum Post: OWS and people with disabilities

Posted 2 years ago on Nov. 16, 2011, 10:11 a.m. EST by audiodef (1)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

I'm deaf. As such, I'm even more affected by Wall Street's crap than someone without disabilities. As a person with a disability, I am qualified to say so. In that regard, I have a very keen interest in OWS.

But I'm concerned about what exactly would change for people with disabilities if OWS ends up meeting its goals (about which I still do not have a concrete picture. "Toss Wall Street on its ass" is very vague and requires post-success plans). Will video content in all forms be more accessible? Can I be less worried about the inability of law enforcement and emergency professionals to deal with my disability? Will I be able to be interviewed and hired for jobs without dealing with the blatant and rampant discrimination that currently exists, ADA and other discrimination laws notwithstanding? Will deaf children have as much access to quality education as hearing children? Will I have access to announcements made in public venues, such as public transportation?

To be blunt, why should I care?

I do care. But I need to bring this up. If people with disabilities will not be included, OWS will have no ethical merit. I'm concerned that there will be people involved in OWS who will give me shit for talking like this, but if I don't speak up for people with disabilities, I'm just as complicit as Wall Street in the state of affairs for people in my position, and I don't want that.

5 Comments

5 Comments


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[-] 1 points by Sister949 (2) 2 years ago

Currently, people with disabilities are mostly poor and unemployed. Some of this is due to discrimination, ignorance and prejudice. And, some of it is due to there being less money to go around because the money has gone to the top during the last decades. In addition, cuts at the state and national level are huge threats to the social safety net.

I want Occupy to do three things very quickly, 1) tax the rich and corporations and limit the power they have in government decisions, 2) Get more taxes into state and local governments for social programs & 3) Set up a single payer health care system. If these things are accomplished, most people with disabilities are going to have a better life. As a disabled person, I support Occupy because I believe that these three items are on the agenda of many of us within the movement.

There are other crucial issues for people with disabilities, including deaf people who don't identify as disabled. For these, we need to join the movement and begin to advocate for them -- both individually and together. No one controls this movement which means we can't guarantee each other any specific outcome. That is both difficult and inspirational.

What we do have, is an opportunity to influence people who are open to learning and changing their minds. So, for instance, take your concern about police and emergency folks who aren't trained about your disability. Consider the moment right now, when police are aggressively trying to shut down encampments. People who once saw police as "their friend" are now open to the ways the police can, in fact, be dangerous. This is an excellent time to talk about how you are treated by the police.

As as people with disabilities in the Occupy movement we should advance two efforts immediately. 1) Give excellent education on the need for basic accessibility, including ASL interpreters, at the sites, and 2) Provide clear structure for having those who are working from home and within allied organizations to play a role in Occupy, including in consensus decisions.

People with disabilities can't be part of moving the movement forward if it is not accessible to us.

[-] 1 points by podscribed (4) 2 years ago

Hi, Ive transcribed a lot of Chris Hedges videos to text for people with hearing impairments. http://www.podscribed.com/chrishedges/ His speeches are awesome, and I felt people could benefit from them, who don't have access to the videos etc.

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[-] 0 points by Thrasymaque (-2138) 2 years ago

In an anarchy where no one rules and decisions are made by consensus, you would unfortunately be in the minority and your voice would be drowned by the majority. I fear your situation would get much worse. You wouldn't have a constitution to defend you, and a court in which to present your case. Essentially, the majority could vote to do whatever they wanted with you or to you. If you study history, you'll notice that when the majority was able to decide freely what they wanted without the need to worry about human rights or a constitution, it was usually the case that the minority suffered greatly. If Occupy manages to setup an anarchy nation wide, I would suggest you keep your fingers tightly crossed and pray for the best. Good luck.

[-] 1 points by audiodef (1) 2 years ago

You are technically correct and bring up an interesting point. I am not given to understand that OWS's goals include or consider anarchy as a possible outcome, but if it does, then I could be for or against OWS, depending on its definition of anarchy - namely whether OWS's goals include compassion, or whether OWS simply wants to bring down the current establishment without any further thought as to the consequences of doing so. The founding fathers of the United States were historically fortunate with the system they built. They considered options that could have led their new nation down a quickly destructive spiral, leaving no foundation for our current ideals of democracy, even if those ideals are not upheld by the current regime. If OWS wants to uphold those ideals, they cannot afford to simply bring the system down and plan later. They need to plan now, or they will have no chance of success. If any such plans do not include care for those who cannot care for themselves, they will go down in history as simply another regime that screwed people over.

Some people with disabilities would do fine an in anarchy (of which there are multiple definitions). Some would perish. This is why it's important for people like me to ask the hard questions - questions to which I am not getting clear answers. Then what? What if? What happens next? A nested series of "why?".

So again, I ask, neither cynically nor frivolously, why should I care?