Bill of Responsibilities for Persons with Disabilities
Along with Civil Rights, Animal Rights, and every other group's rights, we of course include the rights of the persons with disabilities. What no one talks about is that we "earn" our rights by accepting responsibilities.
As children, we were taught that if we acted responsibly, we received freedoms. I submit that our "rights" would be far less in jeopardy if we accepted more responsibility for the rights we already enjoy.
Therefore, the following is a a Bill of Responsibilities for the persons with disabilities- to balance the Bill of Rights:
- The responsibility of understanding the details of your own disability and doing what's necessary to stay as healthy as possible.
- The responsibility of exploring our talents and educating ourselves to the fullest extent possible.
- The responsibility to others around us who have problems, especially those similar to our own.
- The responsibility of explaining to interested people the details of our disability. Many would like to know but are afraid to ask for fear of offending.
- The responsibility of being patient when terms like crippled, handicapped, or other personally offensive adjectives are used. Most people do not intend to demean. To educate instead of anger and hostile replies.
No one person will have a great impact on the attitudes of the public toward people with disabilities. However, each of us has a good chance of improving feelings towards us on an individual basis.
- Responsible social skills. Do we smile when people look our way, or is eye contact threatening? Do we responsibly seek the company of new people or do we confine our contacts to other persons of disabilities with whom we are more comfortable? Do we responsibly thank those who help us, or are they expected to be doormats? Do we responsibly seek answers to our problems approach?
- The responsibility of appearing neat and clean. That includes clean wheelchairs and adaptive equipment.
- At a seminar for people with multiple sclerosis, a corporate vice president of Blue Cross said, "After all the agony of your physical situation is considered, the most important part of your lives is interpersonal relationships."
Do we take responsibility of treating our relationships as most important? We are no different from everyone else. We love, forget, get angry, become frustrated, laugh, and have friends - but we do it with a disability.
And along the way we gain another perspective: The greatest learning experiences of life are often the most painful. Maybe we should be thinking about the responsibilities associated with the "rights" we demand.