Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

PLATFORM : The Law Has Limits

August 02, 1992|EDWARD B. BENNETT III | EDWARD B. BENNETT III, a quadriplegic as a result of a diving accident, is a student at Yale Law School. He commented on the limits of the Americans With Disabilities Act, which went into effect last week. He told The Times:

Even a law as powerful as the ADA cannot persuade able-bodied Americans to define us, their disabled cousins, as whole. No law can give us a voice in our political parties. No law can force people to regard us as full citizens and people. If we expect law to achieve these ends, we are doomed to disappointment. The law's lever may give us legal standing, but it will fail to give us personal respect.

For the law's promise to be kept, Americans need to think differently about the disabled. The charitable impulse that guides much American thought about the disabled must be transformed into an instrument of independence.

Although the charitable instinct has a benevolent history, it now constrains as much as it encourages. When people with disabilities are presented as objects of charity, we are cast as children, not parents; as dependent, not self-sufficient; as recipients, not contributors. The image of independence must replace the picture of helplessness.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|