Disabled, not incapable

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Christina Nelson
  • 319th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
Did you know that the month of October is Disability Awareness Month? Did you know that Grand Forks AFB employs many physically and mentally disabled people? Did you know that, according to the Disability Resource Center, almost everyone will develop physical or other disabilities at some point? We are all "temporarily-abled." Many disabilities, including learning disabilities, diabetes and psychological disabilities, are invisible.

According to the Disability Resource Center, depending on how disability is defined, between 15 and 20 percent of U.S. citizens have some limitation due to a disability -- between 38 and 52 million people. More than 7 million of us use devices to compensate for mobility impairments: 4.8 million use canes, 1.8 million use walkers, 1.6 million use wheelchairs and 1.7 million use back braces. Among working people, in 1995, people with disabilities earned on average only 72 cents for every dollar earned by non-disabled people.

The goal of Disability Awareness Month is to bring public attention to the discrimination faced by the disabled. Most of us are not aware of the effects even the simplest statement can have. These same statements can perpetuate stereotypes and hold back people with disabilities. Learning more about disabilities can change view points and help change laws to protect the disabled. Those of us in the military could be an improvised explosive device away from becoming disabled ourselves and need to be aware of the obstacles the disabled face.

So, now you ask what can I do to make a difference? You can learn about disabilities and how they affect people. Respect the disabled for their accomplishments and contributions. Challenge the stereotypes and slurs in workplace and everyday conversations. Volunteer to help someone with a disability or an organization that works with the disabled.

For more information on the events for Disability Awareness Month please contact Tech. Sgt. Christina Nelson or (S)Sgt. Desiree Godfrey at 747-5111.