PET/MW: How are persons with disabilities represented?

How do you see persons with disabilities?

PET MO-Columbia Update 9-13-16
PETs/Mobility Carts built since 1-1-16 #1,159

The Washington Post today featured an article entitled “Hollywood’s narrow view of the disabled”, saying that “…people with disabilities are woefully underrepresented in the entertainment industry.” It went on to give some figures that are interesting. The Census Bureau reports that in 2010 56.7 million people in the USA, or 18.7 percent, had disabilities. It makes no distinction between kinds of disabilities. In this time of a stress on diversity and a push for “rights”, it was a plea for the movie/television industries to recognize that the lives of the disabled matter, and that they should be better represented.

I must state that “we have come a long way” since my childhood, both in our regard for and our placing of resources where they will most help those in need. This week I visited a local sheltered workshop that employs over 100 men and women with various stages of disabilities. I see the very high importance of those workshops for the handicapped and for their families.

But such workshops are under siege by some folks who want to make changes in their method of pay that would close them. My work with PET/Mobility Worldwide has taught me much, and that it is a complicated issue. Years ago when PET/MW began I was in Antigua, Guatemala, and met a lovely leg handicapped young woman who helped all day long distributing wheelchairs. But when we took her home, we found that she lived in poverty at the bottom of a very steep hill that her wheelchair could never climb. She would make an excellent receptionist or such in an office, but how to make that possible?

We at PET/Mobility Worldwide stress three things for the leg handicapped – mobility, accessibility, and acceptability. The leg disabled have the same gifts and graces as the rest of us. Maybe the movie and TV industries can make some movies that illustrate that, using handicapped persons. PET could help them do that.

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“In this world you must be a bit too kind in order to be kind enough.” – Pierre Merivaux

Mel West, Director Emeritus
PET MO–Columbia, Inc.

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