Regarding the Dec. 7 news article “Amid unanswered questions, council delays vote on sale of Caswell Square property”: When the Council of State terminated the Caswell Square sale, it urged future community collaboration with stakeholders. People with disabilities and their advocates should join in.
On the square are the 1898 School of Deaf and Blind dormitory and a shop where students were able to contribute by manufacturing brooms and sewing mattresses for local sale. The square’s history is one of transformation of social attitudes toward people with disabilities – from early pity and isolation through a period of hard-won admiration and recognition to today’s unremarked inclusion and social integration.
A disability, like anybody’s immediately noted characteristic, is never their most important or valuable one. We don’t know anyone until we know their talents and aspirations.
Stereotypes, which too often define us, conceal as much as they reveal. They often exaggerate stature or, worse, diminish merit. People with disabilities – and their history of moving past them – are reminders to a divided nation that an absence of an attribute doesn’t impair other worthy ones; differences do not obliterate common ground; perceived limitations or shortcomings produce options and challenges, not barriers.
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What better place to recognize this spirit than in the common ground of our newly discovered Caswell Square.
Douglas A. Johnston