I am a husband, father, son, brother, uncle and friend. I believe in sharing my talents and experiences by giving back to the community by giving my time to coaching, church and especially to the disability community. I truly believe that all men and women are created equally.
There has been some talk recently in regards to "jobs" for people with disabilities. I have heard some people say that the individuals with disabilities should not be complaining because they are being given opportunities.
To all of this, I say "baloney" individuals with disabilities have a right to be heard. Just because something sounds like a good idea on the surface, that does not mean that it is a good idea. If something is considered a bad choice, is that a choice at all? Is a job that pays significantly lower than minimum wage something to look forward to? I work with and talk to individuals every day and they would never consider having a job like this. If there is no work, than they just sit in a room and watch TV, it acts more like a "baby sitting service" I have also spoken with people who like the idea, not so much for the job itself, but for the social interaction. I am sure there are other social outlets available to these individuals..
Individuals with disabilities have skills and they are capable of working in the community.
Are individuals with disabilities included on the Governor's Job Creation team?
Of the 250,000 jobs the Governor is committed to creating, how many are Real Jobs, minimum wage paying jobs, being worked on for people with disabilities?
I have said time and again, until you walk in somebody's shoes do not judge them. Unless you live with a disability or have a loved one living with a disability and you are active in their life, you have no idea what it is like. There is no way I can put into words what all individuals go through, I know some of the challenges my son faces, but I am not with him 24 hours per day, I don't know what challenges he may be facing at school for example.
Individuals with disabilities are not looking for pity. They are not people who need to be or can be "fixed". They just want to be accepted for who they are. First and foremost, they are people and want to be treated like people. They realize that they may need some special accommodations to be able to participate, but they do not expect to be treated any different than the rest of the people in the group.
There has also been talk about transportation issues. This is another challenge faced by individuals with disabilities. They can not all come and go as they please. They want to get to work or go out shopping, spending money on consumer goods. They need to make arrangements 24 to 48 hours in advance. They have limited opportunities to decide at the last minute to go to a movie or to a fair. For the most part, the rides will only take you around Milwaukee County.
I have talked to individuals who have contacted Logisticare, they have told me they were made to feel like they were imposing on the call center, like second class citizens. They are asked a lot of questions, to the point that individuals feel like the call center is looking for reasons not to give the individual a ride to the doctor. Some individuals just give up and miss their doctors appointment. When I am told about this, I try to help them get to their appointments, but it is not always easy, especially at the last minute. As you probably know, many doctors are booked months in advance, so missing an appointment could result in seeing a doctor once a year.
It is easy for people to make decisions for individuals with disabilities. But if we want options and choices to be the very best, we must include people with disabilities when working on solutions and choices. Let's not make the decisions for individuals with disabilities and expect them to just accept what they are given, let them part of the solution.