The Dallas Morning News recently reported a special-education teacher in the Carrollton-Farmers ISD branch was suspended after she allowed reporters to come into her classroom. She revealed that they were doing a documentary on her life as a hearing impaired individual – the school district considered it a breach of her responsibilities as a teacher.
The teacher reported harassment by the principal of the school and other teachers, yet nothing was done to curb it. In reality, handicapped individuals are often forced to realize that they will never be afforded the opportunity to advance in their position as a result of discrimination or just plain disdain of those in power. Often, instead of giving them tools to help them in their job or honoring the request for things or situations which would make the job easier, supervisors rather change the rules to make their job even more difficult, then demand that they perform on par with their co-workers, who have no disadvantages or difference and are able to relate more closely on a social level with those around them.
Unfortunately, there should actually be more people like this woman who stood up against discrimination. While there are rules in place to support the disabled and to discourage discrimination, the rules cannot change or dictate the reaction of employers personally to these people, nor eliminate the constant harassment they receive from their bosses or co-workers. It is for reasons such as this that the handicapped often form their own “worlds” made up of members who also share the disability.
How can we repair this huge error in society and within the law? This is an ever pressing question for those of us who can relate. The problem lies mostly within our revered human freedom to reject whom we will and accept whom we will. But surely there are some things which could be done to help those in this situation. Some of these blazing errors could be quite easily corrected.
Advancement rules within the individual companies should ensure that everyone is evaluated largely on job performance. As a rule, the higher up in the business has delegated the hiring and advancing task to those work directly under him/her. This allows for too many errors in judgment. Bosses and workers within an office develop relationships, good or bad, within the course of every day spent together. Decisions in advancement should occur at a more distant and less personal level in order to avoid favoritism.
Disabled parties should have more ready access to the entities which govern disability laws, and access to help with any problems. A support line, a guidebook, a secure complaint line – the Federal Government should recognize the problem and make sure that all disabled parties are aware of their rights. More of an effort should be made in this area – don’t just ensure that they are hired, give them the specific tools they need to defend their rights after they are hired.
Even the State departments which are enlisted to help the disabled parties are not operating on an acceptable level. The assistance they offer is extremely limited and can take months to receive. Disabled people enter these programs with no knowledge really of exactly what can be provided for them, and case workers are few, overloaded, and in general unwilling to give out any extra information.
It is time for the huge population of disabled people in our society to be heard, recognized, and brought into the rest of the world as equals. Rather than be a burden and rejected and pushed aside, they, like everyone, just want to survive and be a part of everything that is around them.