Do you remember your dreams from childhood? How about your dreams as an adult? While I was in seminary at Candler School of Theology at Emory University, I took a class called “Voices of the Nonviolent”, which was one of my most favorite classes. The class spent the semester discussing various historical figures committed to transforming the world in a positive and nonviolent way. Through the work of these individuals society became a better place and everyone benefited. One of those figures was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Dr. King’s work led to amazing transformation for the African American community and essentially formed the Civil Rights Movement. I absolutely love his “I have a Dream” speech and in many ways, it has impacted my thoughts for the disability community. Here is my dream for the disability community.
I have a dream that people with disabilities will be visible in all aspects of society. In my dream, everywhere you look the disability community would be there. They would have ample opportunity to become contributors in society and being seen in the world. They would also live in residential communities with other classes and generations of society. It would be a world where all people, regardless of age and abilities would be functioning together.
Instead, reality hits me in the face and we see very little of my dream. As we look in schools, faith communities, private businesses, public buildings, and playgrounds the disability community is not there. There are millions of people impacted by disabilities, but where are they? Because accessibility and awareness is not where it should be, the millions of people with disabilities are invisible. As a person with a disability ages their independence declines and especially accelerates once they age out of high school, which is 21. At this transition phase, there is not much for them to do because of a severe lack of opportunity to engage with others in society.
This is not only my dream but also the dreams of the millions of families and individuals with disabilities. We are tired of being invisible and being represented by others who do not understand us. I am a part of the disability community and have been since birth. I totally understand being invisible and not represented appropriately. It is time to begin moving forward for transformation and integration of the disability community in our societies.
I have a dream this becomes a reality and no longer feel good inspiration videos and sayings on social media. Why is it the gifts and talents of the disability community treated as if it is something special or unique? We are people, there is nothing special about us.
The dream for SNs360 is to create a society where all people of all abilities can thrive together. We began in June 2019 and we will see these dreams become reality. Together we all can make the world a better place.