All About Multiple Sclerosis

More MS news articles for May 2004

Against wheelchair races, for sensitivity

May 5, 2004
Aly Williams
Ripon College Days

Dear Editor,

Not all people in wheelchairs are completely immobile. Not everyone who is hard of hearing is 100 percent deaf. Not everyone is completely blind in both eyes.

This is what I tried to tell myself when I saw wheelchair versions of "bumper cars" bashing into each other April 20, National Handicap Awareness Day.

I reminded myself that it's better to have a light-hearted attitude toward being disabled than to drudge around campus complaining.

Nonetheless, I thought of the numerous people I know who are handicapped, and it hurt me to see their disabilities turning into a sport.

And the jokes. Were they really necessary?

Laughing at a blind person in the commons because she had a vague idea of where the taco line and sodas were doesn't justify pointing and claiming she's a "fake."

Declaring this day to be deemed "National Impairment Day" because it also coincided with "420" was insensitive at best and appalling at worst.

People with broken limbs, multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy don't choose to be impaired on "420." Hearing disabilities and blindness are not something chosen to have for fun.

I fail to understand how crude our campus became when trying to raise awareness of debilitating conditions that plague so many of our friends and family.

This past Sunday I participated in a walk in Madison to raise awareness for a cure and treatment for multiple sclerosis. Hundreds of people gathered to raise money and show support for a disease that is infamous for claiming abilities taken for granted, from the use of a person's legs to their sight. Even Governor Jim Doyle showed up to cut the red ribbon at the start line and say, "Thank you" for supporting research and development in combating this disease.

So thank you to everyone who did participate to challenge the administration and the college on National Handicap Awareness Day. Not all of our buildings are handicap accessible, and some professors don't know how to teach a class to accommodate a deaf or blind student. With the help of the students who did take this task seriously, our school holds better potential for equality and a superior education for all.

To all those of you who chose to get high and stumble around blind or play bumper cars in wheelchairs, I truly hope you reconsider your actions in the future. Handicaps and disabilities are not something that should turn into a farce or cheap entertainment.

Copyright © 2004, Ripon College Days