Sunday, December 12, 2010

How Important is it to Make sure Someone with a Disability is Always Included??

Hello all.
I understand this blog is mainly focused on technology, but I feel that some posts about genral disabilities and accessibility are necessary as well.
So, I would like to take the time to tell you about something that I think is really important.
That is advocacy.
That means student advocacy, accessibility advocacy, etc etc.
Advocacy is a verry important tool in our lives, especially in the lives of blind individuals.
This is what I always say, and I will say it again and again.
"Us blind folks have more things going through our minds than most sighted people."
That is, in my opinion, always true, no matter witch way we look at it.
So, based on this post, you can guess how important advocacy is to me.
In that case, this brings me to the purpose of this post.
A few months ago, I was asked to write a persuasive esay for reading class at school.
Everyone in the class began deciding on topics they would write about.
Of all people, I just couldn't think of anything persuasive to write about.
I knew I couldn't write something about computers, as I had written so much stuff about them in previous years.
So finally, I was laying in bed one night, and I thought, "I know what I'm going to write about, advocacy!"
And, believe it or not, that is exactly what I did!
I wrote a fantastic esay about how important it is to be an advocate for yourself, especially when you have some type of disability.
I want to now give all who read this blog, a chance to read that esay.
It starts with the title below.
Let's Be Student Advocates!
By Tyler Juranek
Did you know that many people with disabilities are unable to advocate for themselves? This is a horrible and growing issue. Sometimes, we know that many people don't want to speak because they are shy. It's all right to be like that when a child is young, but when you get older, and parents don't let go, it will come back to haunt the child down the road, preventing them from becoming independent. I personally think that we see this most in kids from ages 11 to 18, and we may also see this in kids and adults with disabilities. This may include Down syndrome, blindness, brain issues, and many other disabilities. I also understand that some people with disabilities are unable to speak. Others, however, need to advocate, especially when they are fully capable of speaking.
Take the following example as to why we need to advocate for ourselves. An 11 year old kid walks into Runza, and is looking at the menu. The kid decides what he wants. His mom asks, "What do you want?" The kid replies, "Chicken strips and fries." The mother then goes and orders the food.
This is a perfect example of how most kids are not advocates for themselves. It is totally ridiculous! In that incident, the kid was totally capable, especially at his age, to order the meal.
If you think that people with disabilities aren't advocates, think again! I will tell you, that thought is absolutely wrong.
My friend, Darrell Shandrow, had to be a strong advocate for himself when he was in school, especially when computers were bulky, and all you had was a Perkins brailler, or a Braille'n Speak like he did. Darrell is such an advocate for himself, there is no way that you could put a strong accessibility barrier in front of him. He would tear it down. If you think you'll get away with not including a kid or anyone with a disability in something they want to do, think again. Advocacy is strongly used in any situation under any circumstances.
Why am I against not speaking up, and letting people fight my battles? First, I am my own self. I can't expect others to read my mind. If I do, I will find out that by doing this, it won't be easy later in life. Whether one has a disability or not, one must advocate for them self. As Darrell had stated in a story on the web, "I have an incredible ability to advocate for what is right, the best way I know how." You know what? Each individual that reads this essay should have that ability, whether they think its right or wrong.
So, if you're not an advocate for yourself, get up, dust yourself off, and plunge into a new world, with that wonderful advocacy tool in your hand. Furthermore, make sure you make things accessible to people with disabilities, and be sure to include them! If you do, they just might include you in something special too.
That, folks, is the esay.
I can not express myself enough about how important it is to be an advocate for yourself!
Folks, this is what many people do not, and should, realize.
Advocacy is a life skill.
It is something you have to learn, just like you did when you learned to tie your shoes, eat with a spoon, cook your own meals, wash your hands, Etc Etc.
It is not uncommon to see what I just described in that esay.
Furthermore, we shouldn't, and most of the time, won't, descriminate!
Just because someone has a visual impairment, doesn't mean they can't be mainstreamed in a town school, can't get a job, etc etc.
Next, I would like to talk about the other item that fits into the advocacy category.
That, folks, is accessibility advocacy!
When I stated previously that blind individuals have much more going through there minds than a sighted person, I mean it!
We always have to worry about things like, "Oh, what happens if my braille sense crashes today?", "What am I going to do if the website they are using for a class at school isn't accessible to my screen reading technology?"
That goes to show that we, as blind individuals, need to be advocates! We will never get anyware in life if we don't learn this verry important skill!
This last Friday, my vision teacher, Beth Pieters, stated, "Tyler, I just can't stop telling people about you! When your associate is sick, you're so good about telling people what you need, what you need to do to complete the work, Etc Etc."
My point is, I'm not trying to brag, but it truely goes to show you how much more a blind person, or anyone with a disability, will succeed in life, if they can get gods gift of advocacy.
As I close out this article, I want each and every one of you to think about this statement.
Winners never quit, quitters never win.
So, think of it this way.
Advocates never quit, non-advocates never win!

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