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A Disability Isn't Always a Handicap

Updated on October 20, 2011
Helen Keller
Helen Keller
Roosevelt avoided revealing his disability to the public. There are few pictures of him on crutches or otherwise revealing his paralyzed legs.
Roosevelt avoided revealing his disability to the public. There are few pictures of him on crutches or otherwise revealing his paralyzed legs.

Disability is Partly a State of Mind

Disability is partly or largely a state of mind as many brave and determined individuals have proved--from British Admiral Horatio Nelson who won decisive battles in the Napoleonic War after losing his right arm in combat with the Spanish armada which he defeated and was killed in the battle of Trafalgar, Helen Keller who overcame blindness and deafness, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, paralyzed by polio and our soldiers who have returned to civilian life minus a leg or with other disabilities even more serious.

I ran across the video below of Renaldo and Claudia by chance, and it inspired me to try to write something on this topic.

Watching several videos about handicapped people reminded me of a humorous experience I had many years ago. I was riding with a friend in his Volkswagen in downtown Detroit. We stopped for a red light inadvertently partially blocking the cross walk when along came a blind man with his cane. Forseeing a problem, my friend attempted to back up but couldn't because of the car behind him. After determining with his cane that our car was blocking his way, the blind man, saying nothing, felt his way around the front of the car to the other side where he grabbed the radio antenna, snapped it off and continued across the street. My friend and I looked at each other completely dumbfounded and then proceeded on our way shaking our heads and laughing. We agreed that this probably wasn't the first time the blind man had bumped into a car encroaching on the crosswalk at a traffic light.

I'm reminded also of sitting next to a young woman on a recent flight from Phoenix to Detroit. I asked her whether she was from Phoenix or returning home to Detroit. She seemed inclined to talk so I asked her where she lived and she volunteered that she lived in a group home with several other disabled people.

She worked through a temp agency as a janitor at a Wal-Mart store. In response to a question she said she liked the group home where she lives, the food was good and she was well treated. A van from the cleaning company picked her up and took her to work and brought her home every day. Her father and an older brother are engineers and live in the Detroit area. She said she prefers living in the group home on her own than with her parents. She didn't seem self conscious at all about her mental handicap, explaining that she wasn't able to do well in school like her brother and didn't graduate from high school. She was quite cheerful and seemingly not discontented with her lot in life, even proud that she was living on her own and pretty much supporting herself.

After our conversation waned she pulled out and began to work on a puzzle book which appeared to me to be designed for grade schoolers. When we were de-boarding the plane she asked if she could walk with me and my wife to the baggage claim area in case she had trouble finding it. She walked with us, and a driver from the group home soon appeared in the baggage claim area to pick her up. My conversation with this cheerful and unselfconscious woman was somewhat a revelation to me about the potential of most if not all disabled people.

I guess the point of my stories is that most if not all handicapped people are capable of leading meaningful, productive lives if given the opportunity and a bit of help if needed. We shouldn't act as if we feel sorry for them, and we should refrain from bringing up their handicap unless they broach the subject. Offering assistance to a blind person at a busy intersection or opening a door for someone on crutches or in a wheel chair is much appreciated. But showing outward pity is not a good idea. Anyway, I hope the videos below may be of interest.

Reynaldo y Claudia Amazing!

Break Dancing by Disabled People

Invictus by William Ernest Henley


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

William Ernest Henley


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    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 7 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      I've added some thoughts and additional features to this Hub which started out simply as a video which I thought was cool. Comments are welcome, especially from handicapped individuals.

    • profile image

      Iðunn 9 years ago

      lol, nice potshot at chavez.  :p  you are SO sneaky.  :D  I do love latin dance especially of the ballroom competitions.  this Hub is a delight.

    • Ralph Deeds profile image

      Ralph Deeds 9 years ago from Birmingham, Michigan

      More Colombianos. Darned talented people! Far more so than the Venezolanos who never had to do much because of all their oil.

    • profile image

      Iðunn 9 years ago

      how did I miss this? extraordinary! I suppose the love of dance never leaves and I can identify strongly with that. It's like being in heaven. Bravo to Reynaldo!