Social Structure

In society there are many types of people you see. One thing in particular I notice is how people with disabilities are treated.  Even around campus I notice how certain people are treated.  I see people that are in wheelchairs all around school. They have access to ramps and everyone around them treat them as they are no different. I wont name names, but there is someone in particular that stands out to me. He visibly has a disability. He’s probably one of the friendliest people I have met that this school. It also warms my heart to see other students come up to him to shake his hand or just to sit and talk with him. At my old school there were a few kids with different problems and not everyone was as nice to them  as they are here. That makes me upset because they shouldn’t be treated any different thats what I define a social model as. Our society decides whats disabled and whats not.

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Disabilities are not a threat.

I came across an article on Facebook discussing a relatively controversial topic in society today: police violence. Without picking sides, because I know there is a lot of debate on who crosses over the line the most, I found an interesting point about police violence and disability. This goes along with the broad idea of how we as society are too quick to look at people, their tendencies and behavior and see it as different from us. We are judgmental. We won’t admit it, but if we see a difference from the “norm”, we are uncomfortable. Often times, these unfamiliar behaviors that we see from people with mental disabilities can be portrayed as peculiar and a threat to us, which leads me into the contemporary issue I will be discussing.

According to the most recent census, around 20% of the population in America has some sort of disability. As for mental disability, these are more difficult because they cannot always be physically seen. They are most often seen through behavior. This hints to the discussion of police violence because society (including the police force) cannot always tell the difference between a person with mental disabilities and a person who poses as a danger to society or oneself; to complicate things, they can cross paths and fall under both. Statistics show that as many as half of police killings involved disabled people, within the past year; typically mentally ill people and those with developmental or intellectual disabilities.

This is an issue because it represents disability in a dangerous way and sheds light on the fact that we as society just don’t know enough about disability. There needs to be more education on disability and how to handle intense situations with people with disabilities, to avoid adding to the statistics of police killings of those with disabilities.

From this course, I have learned about the social model of disability, which says that disability is shaped just as much by the environment and society as it is shaped by the body itself. This applies to the problem with police violence because as a society, we are not educated enough about disability, and that has only lead to injustices with people with disability in reference to the law, criminalization and being killed. If we change our knowledge, training and become more aware of ways to recognize and interact with people with certain disabilities, we could then be able to reduce the amount of police brutality of those with disabilities. Because we would be able to handle the situation without being so threatened that it leads to violence.

Education is the most important step in moving forward with introducing disability as a regular and accepted factor in society.

Education A Road to Equity

 

higher education

As a sociology major, I love my major and see so much importance in the ways in which it aids educating students on inequality and the ways in which we shape society and society shapes us. I want to view the best in my department and feel proud that it aims to tackle all inequality and marginalization. However, being just simply Anastasia I  often am the first to point out the ways something could be improved in an attempt to avoid inadequacy or ignorance. At Randolph Macon, though we have professors who are passionate about education in disability studies there is no formal department, concentration or track for students to further educate themselves. Unfortunately, Randolph Macon is a member of the majority in terms of not having a disability studies program. I read recently in a New York Times article that only 35 college and universities in the United States offered some form of centralized curriculum on disability studies. This means that less than 1% of the higher education institutions in the United States offers students the proper education on disability. The marginalization of those with a disability with is clear simply just looking at the numbers not taking into account what is being taught in those programs or the caliber at which it is available. This in itself is a form of ableism. As previously defined in our class ableism focuses on the idea of privileging or valuing certain lives over others. It is a judgment of the value of a human life being attached to certain abilities. By refusing to even give the opportunity of education for students interested in we are explicitly saying that those with a disability and disability as a whole is something that should not be discussed and is not as important as the study of other marginalized groups, the natural sciences, and literature. I cannot promise that the creation and inclusion of a disabilities program at RMC will somehow fix all stigmatization, marginalization, and inequality directed at those with disabilities but it is a viable step we can take in showing the importance of recognizing and learning more about this particular community and make us more well-rounded students and human beings.

Fun Sensory Sundays!

Some people who have disabilities, including those with autism, have problems with sensory overloads, where there’s too many loud noises and people in a room for them to actually feel comfortable. For a child with a disability, this makes activities that are supposed to be fun, a difficult task to get through. The question would be, what could we do to make the experience for them in certain places easier? Chuck E. Cheese seems to have the answer with their new universal design for kids with sensory overload, Sensory Sundays!

Sensory Sundays at Chuck E. Cheese is a day dedicated to those who have sensory overload but still want to enjoy themselves and play. From 9 am- 11 am in certain locations (New York, New England, New Jersey) , on the first Sunday of every month, Chuck E. Cheese will have: less crowds and noise, dimmed lighting, no shows, music, or radio playing, no mascots walking around, and a trained and caring staff. They will still offer their usual food and games but parents will also be allowed to bring in foods for their children. All of these accommodations will be made for the children that love Chuck E. Cheese’s but cannot be there on a regular day when there is a lot going on. Anderson, who is the director of advertisement and media, says that “Chuck E. Cheese’s has always been a place where a kid can be a kid. We want to ensure that children with autism spectrum disorder or other special needs have the same opportunity to enjoy the experience of visiting Chuck E. Cheese as their peers.”

Again, Chuck E. Cheese is trying their hands at a universal design, a solution that will accommodate every child with a love for their gaming playground.  However, as previously said, Sensory Sundays will only be happening at certain locations but hopefully, if all goes as planned and this solution works, they hope to bring Sensory Sundays to all of their locations. And I think that would be so heartwarming and grand to see every child enjoying themselves no matter the disability they have. chuck e cheese

 

The Workplace for Those with Disabilities

It’s disappointing when you open to a news article and find out just 16% of adults with autism are in full-time paid employment. In today’s society, some people may expect better, but to others ,like us, who are studying disability it is not so surprising. We have learned in past readings this semester the stigma that people with autism DS workerand other mental disabilities face in not just the work place, but in society as a whole. In the keyword reading “Ability”, it was said that ability and disability have a connected relationship, meaning that if you have a disability, you are therefore also labeled as ‘less-abled’. In a recent article, they claimed that those with autism who do join the workplace are faced with bullying, discrimination, and isolation simply for being different. Learning in schools and doing some tasks might not be the easiest for these individuals, but it is the fact that they continue to strive to make a difference in their lives that is what really matters. It is understandable that there are some people with disabilities who may not want to be out in the community, or may not thrive in a workplace environment, but there are others who want nothing more than to be treated fairly and have a real job.

The importance for those hiring and working with someone with a disability is to focus on their strengths, not their weaknesses. One of the things that I love about Randolph-Macon College is that they hire those with disabilities to work in Estes Dining Hall and Brock. It is a wonderful sight to see their smiling faces and know that inside they are just happy to be treated like a normal person and know they are contributing. In the keyword, “Dependency”, they claimed that “people with impairments were made dependent, just as they were disabled, by a social environment that did not accommodate their bodies.” It is nice to know that R-MC did not go with this stigmatized idea that those who have a disability cannot contribute to society, when clearly they can if they are given the chance. I believe that the community can do a better job at being inclusive to those with a disability, whether it is physical or mental. It is seen that given the chance, they do the best work that they can and really just want to be treated like a normal human being. I personally enjoy seeing people with a disability working in places that I am in because I know how much it means to them to be out and socializing with others.

Jobs vs Disabilities

“This January, only 26.7 percent of working-age disabled people had jobs, compared to 71.2 percent of non-disabled people” (The Daily Dot). This statistic proves that although a person with a physical or mental disability can get a job, the chances of that person keeping the job is lower than that of an abled bodied person.

If a disabled person does not have a job, he or she may experience idleness, feeling trapped in poverty as the person could potentially lose all their health care benefits, causing their disability to worsen. For example, if a man is in a wheelchair and does not have a job he could apply for disability from the federal government to get disability Medicare, which will give him healthcare and minimal income for his disability which will help him pay for the expenses of the injury. On the other hand, if the man has a job with a small company, that company has to pay to give him health insurance which will ultimately cause the small company to pay for all the expenses of the man’s disability. Furthermore, if the man becomes really sick and has to take two months off, the company might not be able to financially afford to give him health care, resulting in the man losing his job. This scenario causes a disincentive to work because the company will lose a lot of their money due to the man’s disability. Ultimately, the effect is that once the man gets a job, then he will no longer be able to go back and ask the federal government to put him back on disability health care.

Referring to the movie Temple Grandin, an autistic girl who becomes very intrigued with cattle ranching goes through college, graduating with a degree in psychology and animal science. Temple then goes into cattle ranching, designing a new dip structure to let the cattle move voluntarily rather than being forced. However, Temple still faced obstacles as she battled with her autism. Due to her disability, the people running the company did not want to hire her because they only saw her disability, thinking she didn’t know what she was talking about and that she was just crazy.

These examples illustrate why it is hard for a disabled person to get the same benefits as an abled bodied person. The cost of healthcare and that thought that a mentally disabled person is incapable of the same ideas an abled bodied person will make it hard to hire a mentally or physically disabled person. 

Generalization and Defamiliarization

As the holidays quickly approach, so does holiday shopping. With the holiday shopping, long lines, crowded stores, and a ruckus of people running around to find the best deals quickly approaches. This is to be expected, as most of these deals are temporary and only last for certain periods of time. The one specific shopping spree that comes to my mind is Black Friday shopping. People rush to these stores to fight other people for the best deals possible. People from all around the US and now many other countries too, wait every year for this very day. People wake up at ungodly hours on the morning after Thanksgiving to go shopping. Many people even have the commitment to camp outside of stores, starting the night before, until they open the next morning. With this level of commitment, you better hope you beat the others to the best deals.

I know that for my family, Black Friday shopping is not a major part of our Thanksgiving tradition. The reason for this is that, to my family, the deals are not worth the ruckus. They believe it is too dangerous to be out shopping during the Black Friday shopping spree. People go crazy and sometimes even fight others to get the best deals. Thinking about this made me wonder how people with disabilities, such as being handicapped or cognitively disabled, could enjoy these great deals. Especially considering how the majority of these deals are only offered in stores and not online, these disabled individuals have to muster up the courage to face these deal thirsty people to go shopping.

Many stores do not take into consideration the disabled. They make generalizations about people, and what they will like and need, but never about what accessibility needs they may have. Considering most stores do not have easily accessible items for the handicapped, I was amazed to see how many people still go shopping in their wheelchairs. Some of these people in wheelchairs are even paraplegic. As you may be wondering how it is at all possible for these people to maneuver through the store with so many others pushing a shoving to get the items they desire, these disabled individuals often times have to try to reach for all these items on their own. With little or no help, the individuals must be prepared to go into crowded situations and wait in extremely long lines.

Sometimes being physically handicapped is not the only issue. Many disabled individuals with cognitive disabilities have to learn to just deal with the lack of accommodations during the holiday shopping season. They have to bear with the crowds, the noise, and the pushing and shoving. Those with cognitive disabilities must learn to shop with crowds of people fighting for the best deals, or not shop at all. For many of these people shopping in this manner under these conditions can be overwhelming and even cause anxiety or panic attacks.

As for the wheelchair troopers, they often times tough it out and shop just like any other person would. They go from store to store within the malls, and even go to others. An issue that often comes up during the holiday shopping sprees is that there is not enough handicap parking, which leads to the handicapped having to park farther than needed. This is a case of when society was the cause of the disability, when the store could have easily made it more accessible for this specific time of the year. For example, stores could have signs in front of more parking spaces that say “handicap parking on x days of the year.”

Many people find ways to work around the hectic situations caused by the holidays during their shopping endeavors. For example, some handicapped individuals learned to push their carts with their head or shoulders, when they did not have arms to help them out. Some learned ways to reach for hard to reach items on their own. Many disabled people defamiliarize the ways we think of getting through these hectic holidays. The daunting prospects of shopping during blockbuster deals are often too much to overcome and, so those with cognitive or physical disabilities will often forgo these shopping sprees and miss out on the deals. This is the height of unfairness; in a country that practically screams for any and all equal opportunities, we are disregarding the needs of those who often get slighted and deserve better treatment. I do not have a clear solution to the issues that the disabled have to face when it comes to the holidays and all of the shopping sprees, but I do know that something needs to change to provide those who are in need of accommodations, what they deserve.