About a week ago my friend Leigh came up to me, almost in tears, as she recounted events from the night before. She told me that she had been discriminated against because of her disability. I was appalled (unfortunately not entirely surprised though) and agreed to use my connection to Odyssey to share her story with the public. Below is the story mostly told in her words:
*to better understand the story you should know that she has cerebral palsy which affects her speech*
"My friends went to a party last weekend and they went ahead of me because I had been watching TV with you. So I called the taxi company and asked if I could get a taxi from my dorm parking lot to the party. When I went out to the dorm parking lot they called me and asked where I was and told him I was there in the parking lot. The guy claimed that he didn't see me and that therefore I must not be in the parking lot. I didn't see him either so I went to the other dorm parking lot but there was no taxi. I was getting more and more frustrated because he kept saying that he didn't see me and that I wasn't there. By the way, I was totally sober at this point. And he hung up on me and so I called him again and he said that he could get money from other customers and that he was leaving me. So I thought 'ok he was just a jerk' and I called the taxi company again. I told them I called a taxi that never showed up and asked if I could get another taxi. They said 'actually the taxi did come, and you weren't there and you sound really drunk so you should just stay at school.' And I told them I wasn't drunk, I have a disability and they completely ignored me, they hung up on me. I called to complain and say I have a disability and I was rejected from the company because of it and they just ignored me and hung up on me again.
The Saratoga Taxi company made many mistakes here. Their first mistake was clearly assuming that Leigh was drunk when in actuality her symptoms were due to her disability. The second mistake (and perhaps the most outrageous one) was not believing her when she told them her symptoms were due to her disability. Their third mistake was making the decision for her of whether she should go out or not. Even if she had been drunk, who are they to refuse her?
Although I know from my special education class that discussion of disability rights had its time in the 60s and 70s, it feels as though disability is one of the minorities that is least talked about today. Therefore I want to challenge you. I want to challenge you to call out discrimination of disability when you see it, to start the dinner table conversation about discrimination of disability, to share Leigh's story. Let's get the world talking about this.