Monday, September 22, 2008
Disabled Americans need a strong voice.
My story:  Metro asked readers to tell us about the issues that concerned them most in the presidential election.  Today's contribution is from Glenn Alperin.
I'm a 31 year old male with prosopagnosia, a cognitive condition whereby I am unable to recognize people using the face as the primary recognition mechanism.
As a person who developed the first personal web site on the topic and took it live in October of 1996, I've come into contact with many other people who have prosopagnosia.
I am also a person of the much larger disability community.
Many in Congress, as well as many in the state of Massachusetts, have been lobbying to cut disability services funding.  I've been impressed with the recent legislative actions taken by Congress to more clearly define what a disability is, and to clear up the legal limbo in which the Americans with Disabilities Act left all of those people with disabilities not explicitly defined in the original legislation.  However, there is still much more work to be done.  Employers are now afraid to hire people with disabilities because they are worried about the potential cost of 'reasonable accomodations'.  Also, people with disabilities are frequently coached not to mention their disability during the hiring process.
Of primary concern to me is not just that people with disabilities are protected and treated fairly by the laws, but also that real education and advocacy work occurs to allow people with disabilities to get jobs, keep jobs, not feel like they have to lie about their disability status so others would look more favorably on them as potential employment candidates, and become better integrated into society as a whole.
Visit Alperin's web page at http://home.earthlink.net/~blankface/index.html