You must have heard about Zach Anner, the stand-up comedian who won Oprah’s “Your OWN Show”, in spite of suffering from cerebral palsy. In his interview with Oprah, he says, “This is a way for me to give a voice to a population that hasn’t really had one”. In what has been a journey that has lasted over 15 years, the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) has been doing something similar. They have been helping people with disabilities lead politically, economically and socially empowered lives.
“AAPD gives us the opportunity for harmonious unity and will help create the strong voice needed to overcome thousands of years of attitudinal and physical barriers”, says Justin Dart, one of the founder members of the organization. People with disabilities are looked upon by society as not only aberrations but as Zach pointed out – people without personalities. The organization through its many projects such as Disability Employment, Disability Mentoring Day and Higher Education Project is keen on doing away with such notions. Moreover, through their Disability Vote Project, they fight for disability rights during elections.
They all are commendable initiatives and most importantly they open our eyes to the harm we cause by excluding from our lives what we think is not normal. It takes a community that exists at the border of society to undo that harm and give a voice to the cause of helping people with disabilities. A voice that cannot be easily neglected by the denizens of the civilized world. Above all, it seeks justice for the marginalized.
There are some ways in which you can help the organization meet all of its goals. Visit their site and join AAPD or you can give what you can.