If I had been born with a disability (in 1975), my parents would likely have been advised that my life expectance would have been such that I could be cared for at home without worrying for my life at the end of theirs. Had I been born twenty years earlier, the advice might have been that I be sent to an institution and forgotten about. Today, life expectancy for those born with some disabilities is not much different from those born typically developed, and we live in an era of normalization.
Our continued work to create space for individuals with disabilities, focusing on independent living and economic self-sufficiency, is critical. While not all of us might live as independently or economically free as we like, and those needs will change over time (as my arthritic knees remind me); early intervention remains one key to success. The more we strive for greater independence, the less we worry about the future. In our careful consideration in developing a ‘place’ within our communities, what can we do to maximize living opportunities and employment for members of employed communities? How can we work towards meaningful employment and comfortable living for the individuals in our families, communities, and agencies?
The importance of this work is highlighted in a new PBS documentary exploring the shortcomings of disability support systems. The 60-minute film “He’s My Brother” follows co-director Christine Hanberg and her family as they look at their future with her brother Peter, 31, who has multiple disabilities.
“He’s My Brother” had its national broadcast premiere on August 1 on POV on PBS and will stream free at pbs.org and on the PBS Video app until September 1, 2022.