Beyond accommodations: An introduction to disabilities studies in Iowa

Nitanga Safi

Daniel Van Sant, a staff advocate with Disability Rights IOWA, recognizes that while he has a disability, he still has many privileges. 

On Tuesday, from 12:10 to 1 p.m. in the Gallery Room of the Memorial Union, Van Sant spoke about his experiences with a disability and the issues many people with disabilities face.

Van Sant was born without hip sockets and has had to go through many medical procedures since childhood. In his lecture he discussed how as people, we can shift the way we think about disabilities as well as the many problems that people with disabilities face on a daily basis.

In the United States, 12.8 percent of the population is disabled and many times these people go ignored, Van Sant said. What a lot of people don’t realize is that if you live long enough you will have a disability at some point, whether that’s because of accidents or most commonly old age, he said. 

Healthcare is also another issue Van Sant pointed out.

A lot of doctors turn away patients with disabilities simply because they don’t want to go through the trouble of hiring a sign language interpreter. Many clinics, too, turn away women with disabilities each day, Van Sant said.

Van Sant said people with disabilities also face many obstacles in the workforce. Employers have found ways that allow them to pay people with disabilities less than the minimum wage.

However, people with disabilities are finding that their disability is starting to be accepted, Vant Sant said. They’re now connecting with other disabled people through their shared cultural experiences, he added.

There are Disability Pride movements and parades that are trying to put a stop to the negativity and stereotypes around people with disabilities. Van Sant also said people with disabilities don’t want to be treated like they’re special or need extra attention, they just want to be regarded like everyone else.