Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Disability Discrmination

I consider myself to be an aware person. I feel like I'm attuned to the problem of discrimination. An event this week makes me wonder how aware I really am.

I was attending a special ed law conference this week. The organizers arranged entertainment for a luncheon that included an "inclusion choir" from a local school. They sang three songs. Like almost everybody in the overcrowded audience, I was feeling really good about the inclusion of kids with disabilities in the choir. I thought that this was a feel good moment. I joined in the standing ovation for the choir.
After the luncheon, I had a conversation with an advocate for kids with disabilities. She asked me whether I had noticed anything unusual about the choir's performance. I said yes, the choir included children with disabilities. Wrong answer.
The advocate informed me that the disabled kids were dressed differently (no black vest) than their non-disabled peers. Moreover, all of the disabled kids sat down and did not sing at all during the second of three songs. Yikes! These were two pretty blatant examples of disability discrimination. I was at a conference about disability law, and yet I completely missed both incidents. This leads me to wonder just how much I miss. Talk about feeling like a brick wall just fell down on your head.
One must see discrimination as it occurs before one can work to stop it. Unfortunately, unless one is properly attuned to a problem, it is difficult to even see it while it is happening. I plead guilty, but I'm going to try to learn from this incident. Maybe it's a baby step, but awareness is where it all begins.


  1. Thanks for your vote. I voted for you too.

  2. dear sir,
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  3. Hi Jim,

    I've voted for your blog...

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  4. Regarding the choir at the LRP conference, when I watched the choir I found it very disturbing that the children were dressed differently. My entire table noticed and were very upset. I overheard others speaking about this as well. After the concert, I approached several of the adults with the choir and told them that while the message they were delivering was wonderful, it got lost because the children were dressed differently, and the group in all white was excluded from singing all the songs. The leaders acknowledged that the students with disabilities were dressed differently, stated no one had brought this to their attention before, and would follow up on this. I appreciated their candor and their agreement to address the matter. This experience taught me that no matter how well intentioned we are, we must be vigilant to ensure that children with disabilities are truly included.