People are living with disabilities all around you. The CDC reports that 1 in 4 people (26%) in America currently live with some type of disability. These disabilities range from mobility, cognition, hearing, vision and many others. Some of these are clearly seen from the outside, others go unnoticed by most.
A Brief History of the Disability Rights Movement
The movement for justice for the disabled community started more recently than some may think. Before the 1900s, disabled people were viewed negatively, commonly as circus entertainment. This started to change at the turn of the century. Later, in the 1960s, the Disability Rights movement was created and sought to bring rights and opportunities for those with disabilities. It wasn’t until 1990 that Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibited the discrimination of people with disabilities across all areas of public life.
The Struggle Continues
While progress has been made, there is still much work to be done. To start, living with a disability is expensive. Researchers at the National Disability Institute estimate that disabled people must make 28% more income than those living without a disability to reach a similar standard of living. To make this more difficult, people with disabilities can struggle finding work. Many have limited options due to their disabilities and some people are unable to work at all. Additionally, medical devices necessary for survival like wheelchairs, hearing aids, and ventilators, to name a few, are very expensive.
Another issue those with disabilities face is accessibility. While the ADA does provide specific standards for accessibility, enforcement is inconsistent. For example, think about a narrow doorway. For most, this would not present an obstacle. But, if you were in a wheelchair, narrow doorways could pose a serious problem, making a building inaccessible. Issues with accessibility are often difficult to fix because unless something is directly impacting your life, you probably don’t take notice.
Expenses and accessibility only touch the tip of the iceberg. People with disabilities are surrounded by difficulties in every area of life. Because of this, it is clear that more advocacy and change are needed.
What is the Christians’ Duty?
As Christians, we have a clear biblical responsibility to care for the disabled community. Throughout Jesus’ life, he cared for the sick and disabled. He healed those who were lame, blind, crippled, and mute (Matthew 15:30). Furthermore, Micah 6:8 commands Christians to do justice. This entails bringing justice for the disabled community.
Jesus took notice of these people. He didn’t walk past them on the street or ignore their pleading for prayer and healing. Instead, He came to their level and saw them. Therefore, as followers of Christ, we should be doing the same.
A Final Challenge
This blog barely begins to touch on the serious injustices faced by the disabled community. But, I pray that upon reading, you would be convicted to act and care for these people.
I’d like to leave you with a final challenge. The people who are part of the disabled community want to be seen, so see them. Look at the people and environment around you. The next time you walk into a building, take notice of what is around you and ask yourself some questions. Could a wheelchair fit through that doorway? Is there a ramp? A working elevator? Do the signs have braille on them? By asking questions like this, we can open our eyes and work towards making the world more accessible for all.
Posted by Ivy; Written by Maeve