Opinion by John Robinson – It’s the simplest explanation, some people are ignorant. Do you need proof? See Pres. Donald Trump.
In the past two years, there are examples of Trump’s superior nature over people with disabilities. This is not “ fake news.” Donald Trump is a reflection of today’s society, and in the business world there are still people uncomfortable with individuals with disability. Can it be simple ignorance or is it something deeper?
Our Ability consults with businesses to build job opportunities for individuals with disabilities. With 90% of the businesses that we deal with, business people welcome the conversation about difference. Business cares about the bottom line, and if person with a disability can improve the bottom line then difference is welcomed. But in every case, there are people inside business that need to learn about proper language, accommodation for disability and how to improve workplace performance. It is an opportunity to learn, not a place to allow ignorance to fester. Business today understands that people with disabilities in the family verse represent $1 trillion in buying power! When informed, all businesses understand that they would like a piece of that $1 trillion in buying power and by welcoming individuals with disabilities they embrace the opportunity.
The only way to educate people about individuals with disabilities is through training, conversation and acceptance of individuals into their communities. Inclusion is a three-step process. The most successful businesses we deal with are the ones that are welcoming to the three-step process. They understand we need to build language, outline job function and build bridges towards candidates.
It is the business community that will lead government. It is always that way throughout the history of the United States. Unfortunately, it does not appear that the trump administration will follow the lead of business.
Do you see a person with a disability inside the Trump administration? Do you see Donald Trump comfortable with individuals with disabilities? No, you see a man obsessed by looks, vein in his own appearance to a fault and completely uncomfortable and willing to mock those that look different. What an awful example. If I had been born to Donald Trump, I would have been shipped off to Russia and/or drowned in the ocean at Mar-a-Lago.
And yet, individuals with disabilities can be a solution to Trump’s economic challenge ahead – where do employees come from? Not immigration. The US is effectively at full employment. Statistically 4% unemployment is hard full employment. Yet, individuals with disabilities are nearly 70% unemployed with 4 of 5 people leaving the workforce due to lack of opportunity. Pres. Donald Trump could embrace individuals with disabilities in the workforce and continue to grow our economy. Isn’t that what he’s been tweeting about – a booming economy?
But no. We are uncomfortable to look at. He mocks reporters. He is “inspired” by the Paralympics, yet can’t watch too much – he is uncomfortable. I’m quite sure the Paralympic athletes do not want sympathy, they want opportunity. Isn’t that what every American wants? Somewhere along the way the United States of America has chosen a president who embraces appearance first and effort/opportunity second.
Donald Trump, do you realize you can join our community of people with disabilities at any moment? We are the most inclusive minority there is. And, we are growing due to an aging population. While you mock individuals with disabilities, it is likely that somewhere along the way you will join us. One day you may look in the mirror and see what you do not want to see. Donald Trump shaking with Parkinson’s or Donald Trump in wheelchair post-stroke. It is inevitable if you are going to live until 200. Now is the time to embrace difference. Now is the time to lead America and learn about disability. Now is the time to grow your economy with individuals with disabilities. And now is the time to prepare for what the United States needs, a president that welcomes people who are different.
To my community of people with disabilities, it is time to stand up. Sixteen percent of the United States are people with disabilities and over 50% of individuals have a person with a disability in their family. We are the largest minority group. It is time we start voting based on that strength. It is time to start voting for opportunity, education and inclusion. If you have a child with Asperger’s or autism, a veteran that’s come back with post traumatic stress, an individual with a mobility issue or you are part of the growing IDD population, it is time to stand up, speak up and vote up people who support inclusion.