Tagged with: awareness disability disability rights wheelchair
At times, the presence of someone’s disability comes into question for one reason or another. Whether it’s to receive benefits like Medicaid, or even to receive services from non-profits through certain grants, at one time or another people who live with a disability have to show some sort of proof of that actual fact to a person in some capacity of authority. On the flip side, maybe we’ve seen someone parked in a disabled parking spot and when they get out of the car, that person doesn’t have an assistive device to help them walk.
Although people aren’t “the disability police”, for lack of a better term, we might wonder if that person really needed to use the spot. I know some people take advantage of what they think are special “privileges” supposedly due to a disability. For example, some people try to say their pet is a service dog because they want to take them into a store, even when they in fact don’t need or utilize a service dog for their daily living tasks at all.
While I’m all for safeguards to ensure that people aren’t abusing services they don’t really need, or even qualify for, there are some people who take their position of power to the extreme. A great example is what happened to Joey Canales. After the cell phone video of his experience with a San Diego officer aired on the Internet, it’s my hope that a better system of verifying people’s eligibility once they’re in transit can be implemented. Maybe the San Diego MTA can issue eligible riders a photo identification in the event an officer needs to verify someone’s eligibility on the spot. Passengers may not feel comfortable showing their Medicare cards to officers as proof of being eligible to use this service. Also, who is to say that a person doesn’t keep their Medicare card in a safe place that may not be their wallet?
Places like California seem to be very disability friendly. Although this incident occurred with one particular officer, it doesn’t mean that other officers would react in the same fashion. Another idea to help prevent, or even minimize the possibility of this occurring again, would be to put the officers through some sort of disability sensitivity training so they have the opportunity to become more familiar with various disability issues. This would prevent them from embarrassing passengers or themselves for something that could’ve been handled in a more appropriate manner. If small changes such as what I’ve mentioned above could be put into practice, the experience would be a positive one for all involved.
What is your reaction to this incident?