Wednesday, 9 February 2011

There is a story in

our state newspaper this morning about a one-eyed driver who has had eleven accidents. One of those accidents resulted in the death of another person. Despite that he has been allowed to keep his licence to drive. Admittedly it has now been restricted to driving during daylight hours and he is, at last, back on a probationary licence but he still has his licence. His occupation is, unbelievably, that of a courier-van driver.
Now I have problems with this. As someone else with a disability I am all for people with disabilities "doing things" if they can. I do not think people should be restricted simply because they have a disability. That is obviously wrong but there may be times when, for the good of everyone, you need to restrict your activities or ask someone else for assistance.
I remember another person of my acquaintance with severe eye-sight problems. Even after he had been declared legally "blind" he continued to ride a motor-bike. I rather suspect he was riding without a licence. In the end one of his children, on a visit from interstate, found out and removed the motorbike. Fortunately he did it before his father actually had a serious accident and killed someone. It caused a severe rift between father and child.
Another friend of mine with a very severe speech impediment due to cerebral palsy was invited to accept an important award on one occasion. It necessitated the giving of a speech as well. He knew full well that he was not going to be understood so he did the sensible thing. He accepted the award, thanked the audience and then got his wife to read what he had written. His aim was to have the audience hear what he had to say. Some disabled members of the audience were strongly disapproving of this. They said he should have delivered the speech himself and made people listen harder. I disagree and I am not even going to be respectful about the way in which I do it.
I know this attitude once lost me a job. I was asked at an interview whether I thought a person with a "severe visual impairment" should be accepted as a soldier-in-training. I said "no" and, among other reasons, pointed out that such a person could put his or her fellow soldiers at risk. It was apparently the wrong answer. I was supposed to say yes. I still think no was the responsible answer.
There are limits and my friend who accepted the award knew his limits. I hope I know my limits and that, while I still want to explore the boundaries, I will not fall over the cliff by taking unnecessary risks. That puts other people at risk too. They may need to rescue me. It may prevent another person with a disability exploring their boundaries. I have to be responsible not just to myself but to other people as well.
I think all of life might be a bit like that - for everyone.


Sheep Rustler said...

I so agree with this! I too am very uppity about 'disability rights' but everyone has limitations and needs to respect them and have them respected. You would not give a blind person a job as a proof-reader (unless of Braille) and nor should they drive on a public road. Someone in a wheelchair should not be accepted for a role where they have to run and climb fences. And sensible people recognise their limitations - I cannot imagine anyone 'disabled' I have met even trying to do such contrary things. And the thought of a blind soldier with a gun ... But there are many roles within the armed forces that a blind person could perform admirably. (And every other aspect of society). Etc.

Anonymous said...

We all have to acknowledge there are things we cannot, and should not do, if we have an obvious disability or not.

Judy B

Anonymous said...

I think what you are really saying is that disabled people also have to be thoughtful of others and responsible about the way they behave. I would agree with that. Most are but there is that radical "we know our rights" crowd that I hung around with for a while thinking they had the right of it. Eventually I realised that they were demanding the impossible and the irrelevant and putting a stack of people offside. They were doing more harm than good and still do. It just makes things harder for the rest of us.
Good blog by the way. Ann-Marie

Katherine Langrish said...

Fairly put as usual - it seems like common sense to me. Putting others in danger always has to be a no-no. As for whether or not someone with a speech impediment delivers a speech, surely it's an individual decision one would have to honour.