Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Blooper Tuesday

So the other day I'm watching TV and I see Mrs. Obama leading Stevie Wonder up a flight of steps to a stage by the hand and I'm thinking "Gee he could fall" and suddenly he does trip and fall down and I'm thinking I hope he's not hurt. However he gets up and in my head I hear the words "There goes the disabled vote"  and I'm  watching Oprah and Caroline Kennedy, the celebs du jour,  up on the stage watching as Stevie approaches, apparently still ambulatory. He's even beginning to grin a little.  

This is why disability platforms in writing are different than disability platforms in real life. 

Of course when I talked to a blind friend of mine after I saw it, she wondered why Stevie doesn't use a guide dog or a cane (perhaps he does at times?) but I noticed he had an assistant with him who was behind him (unfortunately) and I guess what happened is Mrs. Obama offered to assist him but didn't understand what he needed. Maybe Stevie assumed she knew what he needed.

That can be a dangerous assumption.  

Of course people with disabilities are a resilient bunch. We've been dropped before, misled before, and even though the dramatic aspect of possibly taking out Stevie Wonder is all part of the blooper clips that come from primary election madness, there's one thing I know.

Being let down hurts. So vote carefully and wisely today if you haven't already. Don't assume. Anything. We live in a society where we pass legislation like the ADA, then we need another piece of legislation like the ADA Restoration Act seventeen years later.  It's a tricky thing, living with a disability in this political environment. You may not find a candidate with whom you agree with everything. I haven't.  All I know is that there are lots of gaps in the system, lots of issues that need improvement quickly, lots of us struggling no matter what our circumstances and no matter how many times we get up from falling down and grin.  And I want someone who can and will  work toward improvement for the issues that affect people with disabilities. The time is now.

All I can say is that Hillary Clinton understood that a quadriplegic couldn't shake hands. I can't tell you how rare that is in my experience. Oh  -experience.  That.

And since many of us still can't get inside ours,  I find it ironic that the NY Times is running a piece called "Photograph Your Polling Place" where they encourage voters to photograph their local polling places. 

So I submit this photo instead.

[visual description: Stevie Wonder falls down on a flight of steps while holding Mrs. Obama's hand at a rally. Behind Stevie is his assistant trying to stop his fall.]

[visual description: A wheelchair is shown facing a flight of steps with lack of access.]