The obligation of those without permanent disabilities as allies of those with disabilities is to create space in the social, educational, and vocational world for those who engage in society differently. The best I can do is to spend as much time in public with the individuals we serve at Target.
Broadly stated, this work falls within the principle of normalization. In a post-institutional world, the challenge of making disability a natural part of the human experience is making the presence of those with disabilities commonplace. Long hidden from a society based on a Calvinistic view of difference as shameful, normalization posed a challenge that continues even today.
One of the unsung heroes of the Normalization Movement is the screenwriter Barry Marrow. Through his friendship with Bill Sackter, a man with disabilities, Marrow wrote the screenplay for two made-for-tv movies featuring Bill played by actor Andy Rooney. A feature-length documentary about Bill and his relationship with Marrow, A Friend Indeed–The Bill Sackter Story, was released in 2008.
Following the success of Bill and Bill On His Own about Sackter, Marrow wrote the screenplay for the Oscar-winning film Rain Man. Dustin Hoffman’s character is inspired by Marrow’s friendship with a Salt Lake City man, Kim Peek. Before Rain Man, the term “autism” was not widely recognized in society.
Last week I spent time with a couple of Autism advocates. Their essential work today is directly benefitted by Marrow’s impact on how we conceive those with disabilities.
Take some time to view Bill, Bill on His Own, A Friend Indeed, and Rain Man in celebration of Marrow’s impact on society’s perception of people with disabilities.
Bill On His Own
A Friend Indeed—The Bill Sackter Story