Commentary: Low Expectations of People With Disabilities

July 7, 2015

I sometimes get asked what’s the greatest challenge encountered by people with disabilities. For me, it is not inaccessible technology or print letters that I can’t read – it goes much further than that. The greatest and most prevalent barrier that exists for people with disabilities is a negative attitude and low expectations. Ironically, low expectations are often seen at school and home, as the following article points out. I can attest to this, as I have constantly experienced both situations.

It is fairly common for students with disabilities to encounter low expectations from teachers in the regular classroom setting. Although well meaning, teachers mistakenly believe we cannot complete assignments or projects; therefore they give us less work or make unnecessary modifications. How then can people with disabilities expect to succeed in the world once they graduate?

At home things were much different, however. I lost my sight as a toddler, and ever since I can remember my parents had high expectations for me. Instead of thinking “can I be someone when I grow up?”, I would ask myself “what do I want to be when I grow up?”

I encourage all parents, teachers, employers, etc. to learn about people with disabilities and our many talents and capabilities. That way you can expect us to utilize our abilities as a tool to move forward rather than our disabilities as a crutch. You can read more about how low expectations hinder young students with disabilities here.

Stay tuned for Thursday’s post, where I will give a “sneak preview” of the 2015 National Family Conference taking place from July 10-12 at The Chicago Lighthouse. This event is sponsored by the National Association of Parents of Children with Visual Impairments (NAPVI). Many information sessions, networking opportunities and social activities will be available for the whole family! This event is completely free of charge to all friends of The Lighthouse, and yours truly will be speaking at the panel of young adults being held Friday evening during the welcome reception. To register or find out more about the NAPVI National Family Conference, please contact Rana Marks by email or by phone at 312-997-3651.

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