Professor Arlene Kanter: What a Day to Recognize People with Disabilities Should Mean to Us All
By Professor Arlene Kanter
(Syracuse.com | Dec. 3, 2020) We are a divided country. But within this divided nation are over 60 million people who are demanding the same thing — the right to live among us. They are children and adults with disabilities.
The United Nations designated today, Dec. 3, as the International Day of People with Disabilities. It is a day for all of us to think about how we as a country, as local communities, and as individuals, support the rights of people with disabilities. This year also marks the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which seeks to extend the promise of the American dream to people with disabilities.
We still have a way to go.
The DeWitt Town Board recently approved the opening of small four-person home for adults with developmental disabilities. They did the right thing. But it was not easy. Some neighbors of the proposed home appeared before the board to oppose it — not because they had anything against people with disabilities, they claimed. They are worried about property values, increased traffic and safety.
People with disabilities and their families have heard this all before. There were the witches burned at the stakes, the “lunatics” locked in asylums, and during our own lifetimes, the “mentally retarded” who were sent away to institutions, out of sight and out of mind. The difference between then and now is that we have laws that ban such practices. Today, it is illegal to treat someone differently because of their disability — whether it is when they apply for a job, seek to enroll in college or try to move into your neighborhood ...