Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Everyone deserves accessibility, Right?!

In our society today, certain things we do or take advantage of are considered privileges. Among these privileges are those that can be revoked. The right to vote, freedom of movement, being labeled, and even having to report one's residence--all of these things can be the effect of the loss of privilege.

Should that same concept apply to accessibility?
Are certain conveniences made possible through accessibility accommodations subject to the same revocation?

More after the Jump...

Often, there are times that the subjects of equality and accessibility ride a much thinner line than usual. In Illinois a group of inmates have sued over the lack of communication devices, interpretive services and the like, citing health and safety concerns. A deaf inmate,--serving time for second-degree murder--who is also diabetic, says he missed meals, was punished under suspicion of stealing food (given for his condition), and even went in a diabetic coma for lack of communication or misunderstanding his attempts to communicate. There are others in the same corrections system that say the facilities are nearly not enough to assist the twenty-five plus inmates housed there.

While being able to communicate for medical, therapeutic, and business needs is a human right, the situation poses a most interesting dilemma: One part of the population believes that prison has too many creature comforts, and is, in some cases inviting offenders to re-enter the system; Another part believes that people in prison have the same set of basic rights as those who are free. The only solution seems, for now, to be the constant checking and re-checking of the balance of justice and civility to see that deaf prisoners who find themselves in this situation are treated humanely while paying their debt to society.

As the members of the deaf and hard of hearing community advocate for rights and accessibility, there are going to be issues such as this which will provide a test to the spirit of what it is trying to accomplish. There will likely be times where they all might not agree with how to treat this particular issue, but perhaps we all can agree that--in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., "An injustice anywhere, is an injustice everywhere."

Full Chicago Tribune Story: Here

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