Periodically, memes and news stories about able-bodied people befriending, helping, and even inviting people with disabilities to prom swirl on social media. To many, these stories are heartwarming and may even “replenish one’s faith in mankind.”. Undoubtedly, hearing about these events is more pleasant than hearing about bombings, robberies, or murders, however, these stories also belittle disabled people. The world needs to wake up and understand that disabled people are human beings, and therefore, have no less value than their able-bodied peers.
Many articles write “Girl takes friend in wheelchair to prom,” and the comments section is spilling over with positive responses like “What a sweet girl,” or “What a lucky boy,” and what these commenters fail to notice is that they are promoting the stigma against disabilities in society. If an able-bodied girl asked her able-bodied friend to prom, people would not praise her for making her friend feel special; instead, they would just think that two friends are attending prom together. Noone would think the girl was missing the chance of having a “real” date to go with a friend. Disabled people deserve the same courtesy. Yes, like able-bodies, most people with disabilities want to attend prom, but that does not mean their date is sacrificing to go to prom with them. Befriending or dating a disabled person does not mean lowering one’s standards. People with disabilities are just people; they can be kind, cruel, sarcastic, intelligent, unworldly, wise, or uplifting. A wheelchair, crutch, walker, or communication device does not lessen a person’s worth; the individual has worth based upon character traits.
A meme is also floating around the internet reading “If [your] spouse became disabled…would you still be with them?”. This implies that most people would not want to be married to a disabled person. The old cliché “love is blind” has retired because apparently physical ability is a defining trait of a person. Staying with a person who is paralyzed is considered “noble” in this society.
It is time that people saw discrimination against disabled people the same way they view discrimination against women, black people, hispanic people, and people from the LGBT community–awful. Noone deserves to be dehumanized based upon a trait that is out of his control. The quality of a person is not confined to his body, but to his character, strength, wisdom, and passion.