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Comments of Robert Silverstein

There was a point in time where people with disabilities were thought of as people to be afraid of; to be feared. There are cases where children with disabilities were excluded from education because they were nauseating . Where people with disabilities were denied employment opportunities just because they had a disability; a fear that if a woman who had recovered from breast cancer, there was a fear that cancer was contagious; issues about assumptions and stereotypes; about people with disabilities ranging from those with mental retardation to those who were deaf, those who were blind; folks who are HIV positive. The basic notion was that people with disabilities were defective and needed fixing. And if we couldn t fix them, we needed to exclude them, or segregate them or isolate them. To me, equal employment opportunity and ADA sends a very different message; it rejects this whole paradigm of how we treat people with disabilities and instead substitutes a very simple proposition; that disability, like race, like gender, is simply a natural and normal part of the human experience that in no way should diminish a persons right to fully participate in all aspects of American life.


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