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"A Few Thoughts on
Political Correctness and Disabilities"
First-person language is helpful. For one, it communicates that people with disabilities should be known as people first, not as disabled people. This is creating more awareness among the general public that people with disabilities should be treated equally and that we need to be recognized for our accomplishments, not for our limitations.
Although the advantage of first-person language is significant, I also think there might be a disadvantage. I have encountered many people from the general public that constantly insist on using politically correct terms to describe disabilities. Furthermore, I have heard people come up with their own terms just to be politically correct. These include “the differently abled” and “people with different abilities.” While it is great they want to be sensitive to people with disabilities, people should not be too strict about this terminology. After all, those of us with disabilities often forget about political correctness.
Most of us do not speak in first-person language when we are hanging out with friends or family. For instance, when I am relaxing with my friend Katie (who has Cerebral Palsy) we do not spend the time talking about our disabilities. However, if we do have to mention them, we will use terms like “I’m disabled” or “my blind friend.” Since we are comfortable with each other we even joke about our disabilities by using words like handicapped or crippled. Katie and I always laugh at these jokes, but we agree that it is perfectly acceptable to use this type of humor since we have known each other for over 12 years.
People should continue to use person-first language, but only in certain circumstances. I think that in the long run this will continue to help people with disabilities because society will realize that we should be known for other characteristics, not just our disabilities. However, people should not be too strict about political correctness. It is ok for everyone to be informal with disability language at times. In other words, society does not have to always be self-conscious about politically correct terms. As long as we do not use offensive language, it is ok for us to use terms that describe disabilities.
Hello, My Name is David Krafcik. I am a disabled artist living and working in the Celo section of Burnsville. In 1980 I had a severe automobile accident and was diagnosis that I would never walk again. My determination and extensive therapy allowed me to walk again with the aid of crutches. In 1987 I started my business Visual Dialogue. I was making stamps out of linoleum and designing clothing. I would travel every weekend to Arts & Craft shows all over the state of Pennsylvania and New York. In the winter I would set up kiosk in malls and Air- Brush every thing and anything. My wife and dog, Oakly, and I moved to Saint Augustine Florida to start an air-brush business. In 1999 I applied for and received a disability grant from the State of Florida. With that money, I started my glass etching and carving business. I first started etching designs on door windows and then started a line of animal carvings in glassware. The animals were part of two books that I am writing called “The HUSH Archives” and The E-ERTS Log”. I sold these to shops in and around Florida . When I turned 50 I got tired of running from my disability. I wanted to show that you can still be disabled and still be a contributor to society. I started to do research to find disabled people making art and being in the art. I could not find that many. So I started a series of Reverse Glass Paintings called "Beautifully Broken". I want people to see that the disabled have a place and a role in not only making art, but being in art. The series feature images of me with my crutches in an abstract expressionism mode. In 2009 it was time for a change and we sold our Florida home and moved to the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina. Here I still have a burning desire to show that the disabled have a role in society. I am still etching and carving glass and pursuing my dream to get in a gallery with my Reverse Glass Paintings to get the world to understand how hard it is for a disabled person to show society that they have a place in a world of non-disabled people I now have some of the work in a gallery in Asheville called Atelier 24 Lexington and in my gallery in Celo. What I hope comes of all this is to show that the disabled have a place in the non-disabled society and hopefully to encourage others with disabilities to pursue their dreams as well.
"There is always
Walking into any public place, or even a family gathering, can be a learning experience for everyone present. You are always going to have that person who thinks that just because you are disabled you are completely incapable of speaking for yourself. There are also going to be those parents scolding their children for asking questions, which is exactly what they should be doing. One of the more personal sides of having a disability for me is the relative that thinks you are a china doll. You see this person wrestling with the other nieces and nephews and wish that it was you who they were wrestling with.
Some people say that educating about disabilities starts with the younger generations. However, I believe that it is never too late to “teach an old dog new tricks.” I believe that just introducing yourself to someone can make a difference in their life. To make a long story short, I was invited to a family member’s wedding. Before I had even met these wonderful people they were asking my stepdad how he dealt with me having a disability. They just could not imagine what it would be like. I walked into the church that day not knowing what to expect. Of course, since I had already met some of my stepdad’s family I had no doubt that they were going to be very friendly. As friendly as they were, I could tell that they were still a little nervous. I was bombarded with quite a few questions, all of which I answered with a little humor, as well as with the truth. By the end of the night, I ended up with some very sore feet from being picked up by one person after another. I was afraid at first that if I said “no” to dancing with someone, that they would all think that they were doing something wrong. Eventually, I did have to stop. I was having so much fun, but I was afraid that my feet were going to fall off!
Not to sound long-winded, but I guess what I am trying to say is that it never hurts to be like an open book when it comes to educating people about disabilities, whether they are young or old. My experience at this wedding, sore feet and all, is a perfect example of this. No matter the age, there is always something to learn.
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Here are some new articles below and also continued at next page:
Above is a video of our friend Dylan Kuehl.
Dylan’s "Words of Wisdom"
This is something I wrote for my college application ~Personal Statement~ My name is Dylan Kuehl (Keel), I am 31 years old and I have Down syndrome. Having Down syndrome also rocks. All my life I have been a dreamer and a visionary. I have multiple goals and my biggest goal of them all is to start building a band that plays children's music right away. I need first college programs to do it. What I need from Evergreen is to gain access to just one leadership class for band building and to meet other people in my age range with the same interests.
My second goal, not as big as the first goal, is to start building a video game. Again, I need special college programs to do it. What I need from Evergreen is to gain access to special courses to know how from basic fundamentals to advance with improvement in a working process from a helping hand.
What I like about Evergreen is the size of the class like seminars. I like small classes with a group dialogue, so I can focus more, able to speak in class, able to have collaborative learning and show better improvement to the teacher with a working process of a project that meets the criteria that is shown above.
Improvement to me is about not making mistakes. There's no right or wrong answers, just doing our best. Improvement is also about problem solving and making it work at the best of your abilities. I believe that we cannot be too perfect not all the time. I believe this at Special Olympics:
"Let me win, if not, let me be brave in the attempt" (athlete's oath, Special Olympics).
The two of the criteria mostly the first on is important to me, both of my parents came to this college and now as their son it's my turn. Now these are the words that describe me as a student: I'm a quick study (quick learner) but sometimes slow, free spirited, energetic, respected, trust worthy and most of all a friend in need is a friend indeed and to be one.(by Dylan Kuehl)
Believe in Yourself
look back on the time
and effort it takes to
make it through college,
I often look back in
amazement. So many of us
with disabilities are
often told college isn't
the place for us. For
those of us who do
manage to make it to
college, it is no doubt
a challenge. There are
times when no matter who
you are, whether you
have a disability or
not, you have doubts
about the choices you
make in life.
"Getting Back to Me"
This year has been a full of challenges, disappointments and discovery. Despite the growing fear in the pit of my stomach I decided to take a leap of faith and move out of the nest.
August 25, 2010 was the day that life as I knew it changed. It’s surprising how much a person can change in just a year. When I moved out I expected the expenses but anticipated the freedom of decisions. I didn’t expect the changes within myself. As a teenager, I knew relying on other people for my basic needs was difficult but didn’t realize the difficulty of finding reliable workers.
It has been a year of lessons. The most important was not to trust everyone who seems to be your “friend”. Shortly after moving, workers were not showing up and coming and going as they pleased. When it comes to school, if I’m not in control I feel lost. I also have high standards. Unreliable workers led to other things slipping from my grasp.
I looked in the mirror and saw someone that I did not recognize, I had no idea what to do. I managed to finish with decent grades and was thankful for summer break. Little did I know, something big happened that was going to make a big difference.
In April 2011, my cousin Ethan was in a motorcycle accident, taking away the function of his legs and most from his arms. Ethan’s questions allowed me to view my problems differently and made me realize I don’t have to be consumed by stressful situations. The words, “God never gives us more than we can handle” have never meant more to me. I appreciated meeting Ethan’s friend Steve, who was in a motorcycle accident 4 years ago, losing feeling and function in part of his body and half the feeling in his arms. He still plays songs he played before his accident. Watching him play made me realize how much I miss the things I love the most. I don’t know if I will ever be able to thank these men enough. The moral of the story, it is important to keep an eye on the prize, while making time for the things you love. I’d like to end with a quote that will stay in my mind forever, “the choices you make are the challenges you face”-Steve Mireau:-
“Pressures of Success”
The pressures of success are heavy. Especially to those better known as people pleasers: people who put everyone else’s happiness before their own, assuming with the satisfaction of others, they themselves will be satisfied. Believe it or not, I was one of these people. Coming from a broken home and not having the best relationship with my father and step-mother, I’ve done everything possible in my young life to make them think I was going somewhere and I wasn’t just a couch potato waiting for everyone to do everything for me. I always thought that if I could just keep the peace with everyone around me, then everything would be fine and I could just keep that big fake smile on my face.
While in the time I spent at UW-Stout, I not only met a variety of people and learned a lot from them, but I learned a lot about myself. In talking to a friend that has many of the same challenges as myself, I learned that if you live for everyone else’s happiness, it will eventually kill you. This became reality for me, not only with my daily life challenges but in particular, my dreams of going to college. I’ve constantly been told that I would not be able to make it through college, and I have to admit there were times when those words sounded like reality. Eventually I began to realize that I have to live my life the way I want to and not pay any attention to the reactions I get from others around me. Though this task isn’t the easiest and will be something that I will continue to work at on a daily basis, it is one of the most valuable pieces of advice a friend could ever have given me. DVR (Department of Voc Rehab) have repeatedly used money as an excuse for me not to continue my education. Long story short, I qualified for unsubsidized student loans and when DVR found out, they continued to say they weren’t helping with any of my educational finances. It just goes to prove my point that you have to live for yourself and not live for what other people are expecting of you. In the words of the brilliant man who created this website: “If you don’t need someone and can find your way without them, tell them to go to hell.”
(note: CAP (Client Assistance Program) in Wisconsin should be able to resolve continuing education money issues with Vocational Rehab. for this writer. )
"Changing Point of View"
Most of the time I’m an open book when it comes to my disability; Although there are some experiences in my life that are difficult to share with others, I find sharing my story can lead to other people giving their perspectives on situations and possibly changing mine. Even though I have attended a camp for people with disabilities for almost thirteen years, my views on how to deal with the struggles that come with having a disability were still very narrow, even at eighteen. I thought if I could make everyone else happy that I would be happy.
However, my perspective has been altered during the past year that I have spent at the Transition Partnership School on the UW Stout campus where I met a variety of people with different disabilities. While making adjustments to this new environment I met a young man that has a disability similar to mine and my first thought was “How can you be closed off towards other opinions?” I didn’t realize how parallel our lives ran until we set aside our differences in opinion and recognize the similarities.
I grew up with a very supportive family for the most part; while he grew up “on the wrong side of the tracks”. The more time I spent with this young man, I learned you don’t always have to paste a smile on your face to hide the fact; things aren’t going the way you plan. There are many things that this person went through that I could never imagine going through; let alone not having the support of family while going through those challenging experiences. When I heard his story it twisted my stomach into knots. I couldn’t believe what he had gone through and had the motivation to go to college instead of wandering the streets. Often, he’s told me not to look at him as a saint because he’s done many things in his life that he’s not proud of, but he has made an impact on my life that has caused me to rethink my path in life as well as how I handle when people try to steer me in a different direction. This friendship as well as other experiences in the Transition Partnership Program has made me into a different person. I don’t know how I will ever be able to repay any of the staff for that.