Friday, January 29, 2016

What is a "Significant" Disability?

MCIL’s response to the Administration for Community Living concerning “significant” disability.

By Christina Clift

Christina Clift
In discussing people with disabilities and the role of centers for independent living, the word “significant” when used to describe the people served or who should be on staff should be taken out of any future rules.  The word “significant” implies that there is a hierarchy or value placed on types of disabilities. 

Does that mean a person who cannot see is less disabled than someone who cannot walk?  Is someone who cannot walk more disabled than someone with an intellectual disability?  The answer should be no.  A person with a disability regardless of its nature faces the same discrimination and barriers.  So why put more of a label on them than their diagnosis already does? 

Even within disability categories the way in which they manifest is different for every person.  Some people with Cerebral Palsy can walk, talk without difficulty, are of average intelligence and have normal vision, while many are not or manifest varying combinations.  Should one person with Cerebral Palsy be more “significant” than another just because in manifests in more ways? 

The language should reflect that we are people with disabilities and we are equally valued and should receive equal service.  Not that some of us are less or more valued just because of our diagnosis’s.  A simple definition of disability is that a person has a body parts that work differently, but that doesn’t mean we wanted to be looked at that way.

CIL’s fight for equality, equal access, and to knock down barriers that society has regarding people with disabilities. We don’t need to add to our struggle the continuing the use of “significant” when talking about our people and their disability.