Norwegian professor Jan Grue’s thoughtful, thought-provoking essay in The Guardian offers insight into his wheelchair-bound life. Becoming disabled can be like entering a different world. Formerly easy actions become difficult or impossible. Those with disabilities, living or working with a disabled person, advocating fair treatment for the disabled or accepting the risk of future disability will benefit from Grue’s frank, illuminating account.
The rhetoric of non-discrimination and equal rights for the disabled does not address the unseen discrimination and inequality of invisible work.
A series of international conventions, mandates and legislation from the 1980s forward seemed to promise victory in seeking rights for disabled people. However, society must also address inequalities in life itself. For example, entering a gate designed to keep children in their kindergarten yard proves no obstacle to non-disabled adults, but it poses a genuine challenge to wheelchair-bound author Jan Grue. When he takes his son to kindergarten, he must wrestle with a gate he cannot open without great effort and even personal risk.
Other parents might offer assistance without Grue asking, but others will not help unless he makes a direct request. Some believe that not volunteering to help is more considerate than offering a hand, because they want to signal to ...