Disability Is Natural Books and Media

Trading Places


New Ways of Thinking and Revolutionary Common Sense

Would you—whether you’re a parent, teacher, human services staffer, or have some other role—be willing to trade places for a day with the child and/or adult with a disability in your life? If your answer is
"no," I hope you’ll sit and ponder this issue.

Kathie Snow

Whether or not you watch a lot of television, you’re probably aware of the slew of “reality” TV shows that permeate today’s American culture. While I’m not a big TV-viewer, I was intrigued by the concept of people “trading places” on several different TV programs. And it set my mind in motion...

The first step was thinking about people I interact with on a somewhat regular basis. Would I trade places with an airline flight attendant for a day, and would she trade places with me—and become an airline passenger? Yep—I’d have fun being the “boss” on an airplane, and the flight attendant would probably enjoy being able to take a snooze and have a soda and pretzels served to her! Would I trade places with a clerk at Target for a day, and would he trade places with me? Yep! I’d like to have the employee discount for a day, and the Target clerk would probably like being a shopper instead of a stocker! You get the picture, right? These scenarios represent me trading places with people who provide services to me.

Next, I took my thoughts on the road. While presenting to different audiences that included providers of disability-related services, I asked, “Would you be willing to trade places for a day with the people with disabilities you serve?” Sadly, you probably know the answer—a sheepish, but resounding, “no.”

The discussions that followed revealed that it wasn’t the presence of a disability that resulted in a negative response. Many people agreed it wouldn’t be such a big deal if . . . Click here to continue.