Today's social work class was on services for people with disabilities, and I was not part of the group giving it. A lot of this was intentional, since I wanted to actually work on the health care group's presentational, and the other part was intentional, because I know I need to not take what, for me, could have turned into the easy way out. I've done so much work on learning about issues relating to people with disabilities, and our history of civil rights, I know enough to give a decent presentation without doing much research. I'm not trying to brag, just stating that I've done this before. The problem with that attitude, though, is that it always comes back to bite me in the butt in some form.
I'm always entrigued to hear what other people present on disability. It's fun to see what others pick up on, and what other people have experienced. This was one of the best lectures I've heard on basic disability information. It covered a lot of information on types of disabilities, the history (such as de-institutionalization) laws, advocacy and self-determination.
I wrote about how things like self-determination and the strengths perspective were important aspects of social work to me personally, and it was so neat to hear other people pick up on those aspects and run with them. I always enjoy lectures that focus on these aspects.
The group showed a video, which I wish I could remember the name of. They just showed a little clip, but it told a brief story of T.J. Monroe, who served on the President's committee on Mental Retardation. The clip showed him presenting a workshop for people who want with disabilities (I got the impression they were all people with cognative disabilities, but could be wrong). Many of their parents were there, and he was addressing issue of fears that the parents had, letting their kids (who are now adults), leave home.
I'd have to say my favorite scene showed T.J. working with a man named Bobby, and they were discussing what would need to happen for him to be able to leave home. Either the man, or his mother, brought up the difficulty of doing laundry, and folding clothes. T.J. showed Bobby a different way of folding, and, having been in similar positions before, I could hear the light bulb go on. I've been in situations where a sighted person spends hours trying to teach me a skill, and a blind friend explains it in five minutes.
The film wasn't what Katherine Schneider, in her book To the Left of Inspiration refers to asa "walk on water" movie. It was definitely a history of civil rights movie, which made the point of "Hey, we just do it differently". The presentation was the ssame way. It is really fun to see this, and to have the chance to sit back and let someone else explain these things.
I think we're finally getting to a point where partnering can become more of the norm. I hope we, as people with disabilities, will have more allies, and be able to work with them to make accessibility more prevelent. I was reminded of how far things have come in the last fifty or so years. In times when I want to scream about being frustrated with something being inaccessible, or when I hear about posts like the one I mentioned last Saturday, or when I hear about the Anglican Church condoning the killing of babies with severe disabilities, it's really encouraging to see a presentation like this, and be reminded tangibly that other people do get it.