I have been following the debate about whether or not there should be quotas of different groups of people in Public Life (with particular reference to the Media). However, I feel this is going about the issue of “public perception” the wrong way.
We have had quotas of females on different TV programmes (in fact, I feel “Mock The Week” has been wrecked by the BBC sticking to their idea of having one token woman on a panel regardless of whether or not they are actually appropriate or funny).
Some female newsreaders on the BBC News channel have actually been known to wear glasses as they have read the news.
However – and this is coming from personal experience – the best place to learn about things like Disability is in the society you are currently living in.
We keep hearing that children are our future – yet they would appear to be missing out on a vital part of their education.
You see – unless you are Disabled yourself or you have a teacher (or relatives) with a Disability – how are you going to learn how to interact appropriately with Disabled people?
More to the point – the Disabled child is still going to have to learn how to cope in an able-bodied world. You probably have no idea how lonely it feels when you are in a class of “normal-sighted” children and a “normal-sighted” teacher when your sight is as bad as mine. Having to teach yourself to cope with everything on top of trying to learn the subject you are being taught is stressful (at least it was for me).
Even with the current ideas of sending children with “Special Educational Needs” to Mainstream schools you may only get a few in a school.
So – my idea would be to have a group of people with a wide variety of disabilities going into schools to tell the students about their disabilities and how they affect them. But I wouldn’t just do it as a one off. I would invite the people in on a regular basis – so the students get used to seeing them and interacting with them.
Surely that would be better than just watching Disabled people on TV and nowhere around them?
The best way to get rid of discrimination is to make it impossible to discriminate against anybody – and nobody discriminates against their friends or loved ones.