There’s a boil water and water ban in my hometown on the eastern seaboard. This would be deep dark depressing but I lived in India for a while and boiled water and got parasites from flushing my toothpaste out of my mouth with dirty water and thus feel pretty hardy when it comes to dirt. That doesn’t stop the locals from feeling a wee bit panicky.
While watching the news to find out how our brave MRWA and MEMA folk were handling the situation (stunningly actually – good job to them!) I had to stifle a few giggles. Amongst talk of catastrophic water disasters and a lack of public panic, there was a quiet nod to the water being made available to the infirm or shut-in.
Not that the infirm or hermity among us shouldn’t be helped out, but I started thinking about all the ways people with disabilities are referred or inferred during times of potential or actual crisis.
Here’s my round-up of helpful yet not helpful terms for the disabled:
– special needs
– differently abled
– less able
– hard of….*issue here*
Now, in and of themselves these terms may be both appropriated by PWDs or innocuous enough not to bother someone. Maybe you know a PWD who says they are handi-capable or special needs. Maybe you’re infirm.
Yet when I hear these terms, especially during a time of possible or actual crisis I can’t help but feel a little bit nauseated. While crisis present specific risks for people with disabilities, those needs are generally not addressed. When nature strikes and evacuations are required, often PWD are left behind. Planning guides exist for PWDs to utilize, but often organizations charged with the duty of getting folk out are left ignorant to the needs of service dog users, mobility device users, medical equipment users, etc. Electricity becomes much more important when it’s pumping life-necessitating air, medicine or machine.
So while my local news cries for water and looks for a scandal, I sit hoping that emergency preparedness ignore the snowflake-like language for ferreting out PWDs during this ‘catastrophe’ and continue to work to ensure that during actual times of crisis PWD aren’t left singled out and left behind.