Sunday, May 6, 2012

Paper Research: Narrowing It Down

This is the second of these process logs from her folder. They're sort of logs that document her research for her spring 1994 paper From Dependence to Independence. Instead of a log, though, it's more of a mini-paper that is interesting on its own. In this one, she briefly references me.

The photo is of Mom at a local overlook here in 2006.

I was talking to a friend regarding my chosen topic and she was very much interested. We were on a committee called ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) passed into law in 1993. According to this law, businesses are obligated to interview and hire individuals with disabilities on an equal level with the able-bodied. This friend is deaf. She wears a hearing aid to enhance speech both on the telephone and in person. She also lip reads but must be in front of you in order for this to work. She has always gone to public schools and is now a nurse.

She was relaying to me about her problems both in school and getting into school. She said that going to college was quite difficult. The college didn't want to let her in. Another case of someone else making your decisions. I would like to interview her further with dates, etc.

I also need to speak to someone in the school district. Someone in authority who makes these kinds of decisions. I would also like to know the district's policy admitting disabled into the schools and when did it start. There is also the question of who is disabled and who benefits. There are so many kinds of disabilities. The physical is the most talked about because it is the most visible. It also evokes the most pity. Most people feel that because you have a physical disability, you are also deaf, dumb and blind and have no brain. It will take years to dispel this myth. That is why 'mainstreaming' in my estimation is the best thing to dispel these kinds of myths. Education of the disabled is the ultimate key. We should be educated to our wants and limits. Following the education, the laws like the ADA can help these kids in the workplace. But they have to have a good basis in the school system. If this experience is too difficult and socially unacceptable, then the work life will not be acceptable.

I'm worried about going into too many directions. There are so many types of disabilities. I think a whole paper can be written of the physical - wheelchair, braces, deaf, blind, etc. But I don't want to leave the developmentally disabled, or the mentally disabled; the drug-induced mental and learning problems. There is also the theory that heavy smoking contributes to learning and social behavioral problems.

I'm thinking I may have to narrow this paper down to the physically challenged, since that is the problem that is near to my heart. There is the thought that I could group all these ideas in the different areas into sections and try to touch on them but centering on the main focus, which would be the physical aspect. This also affects the biggest expense by remodeling the school buildings so all the physical aspects are taken care of. This seems to be the biggest expense but in the long run, is the simplest and the one which will benefit the most people. What if my chosen profession is being a teacher. Most schools would not allow me to do so.

My timeline will include the changes that I have encountered when I started school and the changes that my son has encountered through the public school. He is now in high school and very smart. This campaign is so different from the equal rights campaign in that there were no staunch campaigners. I plan to visit the library and seek magazines that may show me how all this happened. Here is my theory, to be explored later: The polio epidemic brought a huge influx of handicapped children into the world. Polio not only struck the children, but the adults as well. Again, if you were rich, things were done for you and you were able to do many things. President Franklin Roosevelt was struck by polio and yet he was able to campaign for president and win the office four times. I did a speech on him and what the ordinary person knew of his disability. I firmly believe that at that particular time in history, the communications were such that the fact of his disability was not widely known, especially in the first campaigns. I feel we sort of missed the boat on this one. If someone in a wheelchair can be elected to the highest job in the land 60 years ago, then why are we still struggling. My theory was that it was not made an issue, so nothing was done about the physical problems in the schools. Not until the Vietnam War did something start to happen. The government began to look into rehabilitation. The government started to look at the accessibility of buildings. There were so many vets coming home who had a voice. They had access to education and insisted on it. They did not want to sit around at home all day. They had brains and knew. These young men went into the community and paved the way for many disabled children to follow. The exposure of the normal children in the classrooms is both welcomed and needed. If we will expect these children to work side by side with a disabled worker, then they better be exposed to them early.

In talking with some of my brothers and sisters about when I started school, I found out that nothing was said about whether I was to go to school. The choices were limited. Either I go to the regular school or I stay home. The staying home was not an option. So I was enrolled in school like all my brothers and sisters before me. My sister feels since this was a small Catholic school, taught by the Sisters, that they had no objections to the extra work that having a handicapped child in their class. There were not tests done to see if I was able to do the work. The first year of school I was carried to my classroom. This had to have created some extra problems. I would like to have known what the expectations were of me as a student, whether I was expected to keep up.

Like I said, this topic is so broad that I might have to see what kind of research I can get on all of it, then to narrow it down to one aspect.

Connie, spring 1994

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