The Hidden Minority

| March 1, 2012 | 0 Comments

We’ve always been aware of what constitutes a minority. In fact the dictionary defines it as “a group of people, within a society, whose members have different ethnic, racial, national, religious, sexual, political, linguistic, or other characteristics from the rest of society.” Lately, due to the political climate, the most newsworthy minority is the one percent that is the super rich, leaving the rest of us in the 99 percentile that the Occupy Movement has been rallying for. But what about other minorities, what are their numbers? My research, which is based on just surfing the web, tells me that African Americans make up 12 percent of the population, Asians 4.7 percent, Hispanics 16 percent and that’s as far as I got.

My real quest was to compare those figures to another minority, the disabled in America. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) people claim that the percentage who admits to a disability is about 20 percent. That’s a strong enough percentage to warrant power as a group and yet that power is negligible. Yes, we finally have most buildings accommodating wheelchairs, buses have lifts and traffic lights emit beeps, but the negligence is more insidious than it looks.

As a caregiver for a disabled sister I see firsthand all that is lacking in making her life less of a nightmare. When we are out in public she becomes invisible. Here she sits in a rather large wheelchair and no one notices. People do not step aside to let her by. People do not get off an elevator to let her on. Seating at some theaters is in the very back row and often someone is sitting in the seat next to the wheelchair space. I have to ask them if they would please move to a different seat so I can sit next to her.

Because she cannot use her legs or her right hand, I am always searching for aids to make her life easier. I assumed because at least 20 percent of the population is disabled in one way or another, it would be simple to find such things. So I began my search. There are no stores around that carry these types of products and just a few sites online. I was looking for something specific and I could not find it. She is alone at night and can only use her left hand. If she drops her remote for the TV on the floor, she has to spend the night with the TV on. If she drops her remote for her adjustable bed, she has to sleep in whatever position the bed is in. Since there are so many voice activated devices these days I figured a voice activated remote might be the answer. No such luck.

The technology is there, in fact one company made them, but went out of business due to lack of demand. But I never give up. I just figured I can rig something up myself. It’s just good old American ingenuity. I bought a strap that is velcro on one side and another piece of wide velcro with a sticky side. I will just stick the velcro to the back of the remotes, then take the velcro strap, attach it to velcro on the remotes and loop the other end of the straps to her right wrist. That way it can’t drop further than her lap and she can reach it with her left hand. Sadly, it looks like that 20 percent minority of our fellow citizens has to be inventive. I hope it works. I value any ideas. Reach me at ileneh@cox.net.

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