I met yesterday with a group of scholars from the University of Pittsburgh. These students were a part of the LEND program, an effort to gather the best and brightest students in health care and think more broadly about the work they will be doing.
Their visit to CLASS (www.classcommunity.org) was to learn more about a macro perspective to disability issues. Now most intervention in disability situations emanates from a micro perspective. That is, the person with a disability is thought to have a problem or issue that needs to be addressed, either through therapy, medicine, or treatment. The start point of this notion is that the person has some deficiencies brought on by their disability, and these must be lessened or fixed.
Now the micro perspective does work, but primarily when the person has some illness, or malady that can be changed. But for many people with disabilities, both congenital or acquired, the issues related to the disability can not be fixed. At CLASS we understand this and have focused more on a "macro" approach.
With a "macro" agenda, the effort is to change the perceptions, assumptions, or attitudes of the people around the person with a disability. Where the micro agenda is to fix the person to fit in; the macro approach is to change the people (or environment) around the individual to broaden their perspectives.
Obviously, a good disability advocate understands both approaches, but in the end, it is the macro effort that will produce a better, more open, and accepting world. For more information on a macro approach, check out my website, or visit the Interdependence Network at www.buildingsocialcapital.org. In the end, a better world is driven by a more accepting culture.