Sunday, December 28, 2008

Red Nosed Reindeer and People with Disabilities

My family was watching Rudolph the day before Christmas, and I realized how much it says about our culture's attitude toward people with disabilities. Throughout the movie, the majority of the characters shun those who are different and differently abled. Even Santa's prejudice is revealed, although he learns his lesson.

The island of misfit toys reminded me of the low employment rate for individuals with disabilities. Nearly everyone can do work of some kind, and most people, including those with disabilities, want to be gainfully employed. People with disabilities, however, are often denied employment, even at tasks that they can perform. Many of those with significant support needs who are fortunate enough to be employed work in sheltered workshops - like the island of misfit toys, these workshops are segregated work places that offer little interaction with peers without disabilities.

Rather than shunting those who look, act, move, speak, or think differently aside, why not recognize that people of all abilities belong in our community, fully integrated at work, social life, religious communities, etc. Why not recognize that the full range of abilities falls within the natural spectrum of humanity? Why not give them the respect that is due to every person?


  1. I am proud to say that my library employs several people with disabilities. They are productive and helpful members of the staff.

  2. Everyone is unique and valuable, and we all have something to give whatever our abilities or disabilities. I love your comparison with Rudolph!

    Dr Chun Wong