Don’t we always watch news about young people with disabilities who excel in sports and other things? Two of the most important elements of a news-worthy story are originality and human interest. Why is someone doing what he should be doing considered newsworthy? If a 27-year-old disabled young woman won as homecoming queen during her high school reunion, why should that be on the news as a human interest story?
Yes, people should celebrate these things, but not in the way the media portrays them. Instead of making such things extraordinary, people should begin normalizing seeing young people with disabilities doing what young people should be doing—whether it’s going to the club or excelling in sports, or traveling around the world. Why should that be so hard to believe?
Thank You, Technology
Technology already made it possible for people with limited physical abilities to move around with the help. Thanks to a custom lightweight wheelchair, they can even travel around the world while bringing their wheelchair everywhere. Sure, it’s not always going to be easy if you have limited abilities, but these young people are tougher, more courageous, and a different breed altogether. They embrace—and sometimes even laugh—at their own weaknesses.
Whereas before these young people with limited abilities have to rely on other people to mail their letters and send a fax, they can do so now from the comforts of wherever they may be. Smartphones, tablets, the internet, and conferencing platforms allow them to work from home. They can build careers without ever leaving their desks or having to go in for an interview.
They can file taxes, apply for a passport or state ID, and book flights from the security of their homes. And if they decide to leave their homes, they can call a cab or ride-sharing car easily from their smartphones. And yes, there are smartphones for people with vision problems, so that’s not a problem, too.
Accessibility of Support Programs for Mental Health
Twenty or thirty years ago, can you imagine people talking about one’s mental health? Can you imagine yourself, back when you were a teenager, going to the guidance counselor and seeking help because you feel inadequate, unloved, and unimportant? Even counselors back then consider mental health a taboo subject that does not belong in a school’s hallway.
Clearly, things have changed since the Baby Boomer generation. Young people can freely talk about their mental health struggles. That’s a huge help for young people with limited abilities because they can talk about their feelings about their situations. This helps them embrace what they see as hindrances to their ability to dream and pursue those dreams.
The Laws Have Changed
Employers cannot discriminate based on one’s physical disabilities. This means, unless the work you want involves moving around at the speed of light, an employer cannot deny you the opportunity to work for your company. If you have the qualifications, then there should be no reason for the employer to discriminate against you based on your physical limitations.
It’s the same thing with all the other things young people like to do—build their careers, socialize, entertain, travel, and advocate. Their disabilities are not hindrances to them pursuing what they want. Now more than ever, the laws protect their rights. This is the best time for them to pursue their dreams.
It’s Not Always Easy
This isn’t always the case for people with disabilities, especially for young ones who want to live a normal life as much as they can. The laws and society haven’t always been so welcoming of their cause. It took a while before this sector of the society was able to push for their rights. But this generation of young people is cut from a different cloth.
They are better informed. They understand their rights, and they use that understanding to pursue their dreams. They push and push until they get what they believe is rightfully their rights. And so, when you think about how young disabled people pursue their dreams, you only have to see how they use their voices to understand that fighting for themselves is in their DNA.
The next time you hear in the news that a young disabled person won a tournament, excelled in academics, or rose in the corporate ranks, should you still be surprised? Again and again, this generation proved themselves to the naysayers. They do what they do when they can do it and how they want to do it because they can.