Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Disability Industry

I’ve recently been doing some contracting work in the disability sector, ‘supporting’ a young man at university. This guy has a neurological problem that supposedly prevents him from being able to plan his day, or to manage his time. As time went on it appeared to me that the problem was not so much his ‘disability’ but more his lack of enthusiasm for his study, and general lack of life skills. He spends his time internet gaming all night, and is then unable to stay awake to attend classes and complete assessment tasks.

It got me thinking about the whole disability industry. The industry is based on what it calls the social model of disability – a model that blames society for disabling people. It says that a blind person is NOT disabled because he/she is blind – he/she is disabled by the evil people in society who hate people with disability and make life very difficult for them. What a load of bollocks. A person is blind because HIS/HER eyes don’t work!

This reminds me of an advert that’s been playing on NZ television for some time. An advert about mental health consumers claiming that the only way to recovery from illness or disability is to remove discrimination. Discrimination causes the disability? How bloody ridiculous is that? Surely disability comes from the condition itself. A person with schizophrenia is disabled because he/she has schizophrenia!

Sure, conditions out there in the world can make life more difficult, but the only way to cure the disability of blindness is to get the person’s EYES working!

For people who have physical disability that there is no cure for, getting rid of discrimination means little. You can’t cure the disability suffered by a person with an intellectual impairment simply by getting rid of discrimination.

What do these idiotic types of thinking achieve? It allows my young client to blame his laziness on his ‘disability’, rather than on his internet gaming. It allows disabled people to seek out and obtain (sometimes unnecessary) taxpayer funded services. And welfare benefits. And jobs: public- and NGO-sector jobs doing unproductive stuff like policy analysis.

I know a blind chap who refuses to be part of this idiocy. He insists on achieving things on his own merits. He’s never tried to get jobs by playing on his blindness. Sure, he’s occasionally worked in the disability industry, but only in jobs that he was QUALIFIED FOR. He’s operated his own engineering business in Sydney – obviously with some help with tasks that required eyesight. He’s currently working in the accident insurance industry and is consistently the top performer in his branch. Because he gets the work done, with determination and the assistance of computer technology. He’s no victim. He’s run international marathons, in the open (not the disabled or blind) category, with only a sighted person running beside him to guide him. And made excellent times. Ask yourself.

I’ll stop ranting for now.