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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Business or Pity?

I read yet another article in the New York Times that misconstrues the basic meaning of disability. The article in question was in the business section which I try to avoid because it is so depressing to read how the economy continues to decline at an alarming and never ending rate. Regardless, the article, "Marketers Lend Voices to Show Support for the Disabled" is less about marketing than it is about charity. Apparently as the economy has collapsed people surveyed think large corporations need to be more charitable and responsive to communities. Corporations have heard the demand for a more altruistic approach to business and have decided to help. Who do corporations want to help? We crippled people! Thank God Almighty we are saved!

According to Toys "R" Us senior vice-president the company is "continually seeking to find ways to be part of the family dynamic, from birth to pre-teenage". What exactly is Toys "R" Us doing? They are supporting Autism Speaks via a campaign centered on a collection of photographs titled "Faces of Autism". Another company mentioned in the article, American Airlines, has announced plans to honor the best television commercial featuring what are deemed "positive portrayals of the disabled". The winning spot will get free air time during the airline's in flight entertainment programming.

I am not opposed to either effort by Toys "R" Us or American Airlines. But these efforts are devoid of reality in my opinion. Shopping at Toys "R" Us as anyone with young children knows is a miserable experience. More to the point, I have not seen an employee at Toys "R" Us with a disability for more than a decade. Long ago the local Toys "R" hired people with cognitive disabilities but I have not observed anyone with a disability employed by this company. As for American Airlines, I would prefer the airline spend less time thinking about the imagery of people with a disability. I for one would like to be able to enter and exit an aircraft promptly. That rarely if ever happens when I fly. A host of law suits filed year in and year out against major carriers such as American Airlines is proof positive services for people with a disability is simply not a priority. At least now, I can watch something while I wait, and wait, and wait, and wait for a trained employee to assist me on and off an airplane.

Perhaps I am too grumpy. I got sick with a urinary tract infection over the weekend and spent much of Sunday in an Emergency Room. I still feel like I got hit by a truck. Yet, I cannot help but maintain that NYT article discussed above is all about charity and money. I have nothing against charity, well maybe a little, but I am much more of a practical person. I would rather see Toys "R" Us hire a person with a cognitive disability than put a photograph on the wall. I would rather have American Airlines provide adequate service, not good service, adequate service for passengers with disabilities. Go ahead and call me a grump.


FridaWrites said...

I think you're right. Businesses like this are using us. They're using us, saying look what we do (not a darn thing until forced to by a court of law or threat thereof). Anger's justified.

I'm sorry you've been ill and hope you feel better.

william Peace said...

Frida, I am indeed feeling better. Why I even contemplated having a beer tonight!

Yes, we are indeed being used. Somehow Toys "R" Us does not bother me but the airlines are another matter. They have a long history of blatant discrimination and all the fines permitted by the ADA are just the price of doing business.