Jay Ruckelshaus is a Disability Advocate that uses a wheelchair as a result of a driving accident prior to his matriculation at Duke University. Jay is now a Rhodes Scholar in political theory at the University of Oxford and he is also the founder and president of Ramp Less Traveled, a nonprofit organization that helps students with spinal cord injuries pursue higher education.
Jay published a very interesting opinion piece this week at The New York Times. Excerpts included:
"This is related to the charity impulse that has always surrounded disability — and has constrained liberation efforts by assuming that inequities are unfortunate but natural realities to be mitigated through compassion, rather than politically structured injustices. There is also a profound lack of disabled people in the public sphere, meaning any substantive discussion that does occur is extremely rare."
"Instead of facilitating change, false unity actually restrains change. It stifles the more substantive conversations true progress requires. And our inability to speak honestly — and contentiously — about disability shows how the politics of disability is in this sense non-political. We are the worse for it."
Jay's article raised some questions that we need to discuss in the Disability/Autism communities:
- How do we pay for and what is the cost of support for adults with disabilities?
- How can "inclusion" be achieved, and can we combine people with different disabilities to create an inclusive life that also reduces cost for society?
For my son Dustin, I can imagine him pushing the wheelchair of someone who is physically impaired, and that person in turn could support him mentally when we are gone. With an older brother in the US Navy, I am also looking at ways to combine Veterans with our community.
It is a complex, one at a time conversation.