I’m thankful for the progress we have made in welcoming people with handicaps into the mainstream of society.
If you’re a baby as yet unborn this is not a good time to be handicapped, as you have a good chance of not surviving till birth. But if you get that far, it’s better to be here and now than in an earlier time. Here are just a few of the improvements I’ve witnessed:
- Major advances in neonatal medicine
- Amazing prosthetics
- Braille signs in elevators and other public places
- Acceptance and promotion of American Sign Language for the Deaf
- Wheelchair cuts in curbs—which are also a great help with bicycles and strollers
- Ramp access to buildings
- Handicapped parking spaces
- Specially equipped restrooms
- Integration of handicapped students in regular school classrooms
- Special Olympics and similar events that encourage sports participation for the handicapped
- Greater understanding of and openness about mental illness
- Computers, with their ability to open the world to people with many different forms of disability
- Laws against unfair discrimination
If progress remains to be made, and it does, it's good to remember how far we've come, and to be aware that gains achieved can subsequently be lost. I've seen hints of a disturbing backlash against handicapped children, on the grounds that "they should never have been born."