Steven Eidelman's blog

Dec. 3 International Day of People With Disabilities, Meaningful Or Hallmark Holiday?

U. N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon marks December 3rd as the International Day of People with Disabilities

"We mark this year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities in the wake of the adoption of the ambitious 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  This global blueprint for action summons us to 'leave no one behind'."

If his words come to fruition it will be a leap forward for people with disabilities, their families and their communities. There are about 7 billion of us on this planet, one billion of who have some form of disability.  About 10% of people with disabilities worldwide are children and 80% of people with disabilities live in the developing world.

UN International Day of People With Disabilities. Courtesy of the UN

#JDAIM16: Disability And Language

Editor's Note: February is Jewish Disability Awareness & Inclusion Month, an international effort to raise awareness (#JDAIM16 on twitter). "The New Normal" will share blogs all month long about the language we use when we talk about disability. Please comment here or on our Facebook page — share with your community and join the conversation!

Does it really matter what we call people? Is terminology and language use important? By now you may think you have heard too much about person-first language, or at least the intent which is to emphasize the person and not the label. This works for most groups, although increasingly those who are autistic, or at least organizations representing them, seem to prefer the term "autistics" over "people with autism" (Read more about that debate here). 

So what does it really matter?

Steven Eidelman

What Are YOU Thankful For? Part 3

Editor's Note: In honor of Thanksgiving, we asked our "New Normal" contributors to reflect on the intersection of gratitude and disability. We'd love to hear what you are thankful for in the comments below! Read parts one and two here.

Like most people of all faiths, I am grateful for family. Thanksgiving, the quintessential American holiday includes traditions involving family, food and celebration.  I am thankful for the people with disabilities and, in many cases, their families who have taught me a lot about that word family and about how struggles to improve society and to improve their local communities have results in that almost mythical tide that raises all boats. 

Steven Eidelman

Independence Days: 25 Years Of The Americans With Disabilities Act

Here in the U.S., we are about to celebrate Independence Day.  I’m from Philadelphia so July 4 is especially meaningful to me: After all, it was in the City of Brotherly Love that the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776. 

July is another celebration of American freedom. July 26 is the twenty-fifth anniversary of The Americans With Disabilities Act, the ADA. The ADA has been widely recognized as the Civil Rights Act for people with disabilities. It's a recognition by our nation that people with disabilities are to be treated with respect and dignity.

Steven Eidelman

If Elijah Arrived In A Wheelchair, Could You Welcome Him To Your Seder?

If Elijah had a disability would he be welcomed at your Seder? During Passover we traditionally have a cup of wine at our Seder table for Elijah and we open the door to let him in. Could he get into your home or the place in which you celebrate the Passover holiday? If Elijah used a wheelchair or had other ambulation challenges could he get in?  Would you invite him in if he looked different or sounded unusual when he spoke? Could he participate in the rituals of Passover if he could not read the Haggadah? (For people who do not read or read well there is now an adapted Haggadah.)

People With Disabilities (And Their Families) Have Dreams, Too

When Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his inspiring “I have a Dream” speech in August, 1963 the civil rights movement for people of color had come of age.  I have listened to recordings of the speech too many times to count.  It inspires every time.  And it is emblazoned on our collective psyche. We all know the story of Rosa Parks, an African-American woman who refused, in 1955, to give up her seat on a public bus and move to the back so that a white person would be able to sit where she had been sitting.

Actually, It Doesn't Take A Village

We have all heard the phrase, "It takes a village to raise a child.” Some attribute it to an African proverb, though there appears to be some controversy about that. The phrase itself has become shopworn, utilized by elected officials, pundits and others. 

Steven Eidelman

The Debate Continues: What Is The Purpose Of A School?

Recent posts on the New Normal about Jewish Day Schools and students with disabilities here and here are part of an important dialogue.

They ask the question “What is the purpose of an education and a school?” And the question must be asked, regardless of the nature of the school. Schools are not just places where the parents are “the customer;” nor are the students, or the donors.

Steven Eidelman
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