11 12 2007

Physical disability no impediment to public service

The Clarion-Ledger

December 11, 2007

http://www.clarionledger.com

http://www.clarionledger.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071211/OPINION02/712110312

One out of five Americans has a disability. Every day they encounter incidents of discrimination where people make negative and incorrect assumptions about the capabilities these individuals possess. Their abilities are often underestimated because of their disabilities.

To make matters worse, some of our own elected officials are contributing to this negativity by engaging in public debate over the health and fitness of the current speaker of the House.

The negativity of this conversation makes it very hard to change the broad community perspective about people with disabilities. It is very alarming, as an advocate and a person with a disability, that these same elected officials make and enforce laws that affect the daily lives of 600,000 plus Mississippians with disabilities and their families.

It is not my intention to support any political parties, rather to challenge all parties involved to exercise leadership to change the direction of this debate.

Let’s spend our time implementing vision and engaging in meaningful discussion of the critical issues that are facing our state and its citizens. If you have concerns as to whether or not a person is capable of leadership because he or she has a disability, here are some facts to set your mind at ease.

People with disabilities have a track record of success, demonstrating their productivity, commitment, and ability to meet job requirements. Job retention for people with disabilities is currently 50 percent longer than for their non-disabled peers.

And let’s not forget the 32nd president of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt, who served in the New York Senate, as assistant secretary of the Navy, as governor of New York, and became the only president to serve four terms, all after being diagnosed with polio.

Mary Troupe

Executive director

Mississippi Coalition for

Citizens with Disabilities

Jackson

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