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A person’s a person no matter how small or great the disability

Letter to the Editor | Sunday, April 13, 2008

During my time as a student at Notre Dame I worked at Logan Center with many severely disabled adults like Terri Schindler-Schiavo and Lauren Marie Richardson. These extraordinary human beings had more life and love in them than many other non-disabled human beings I have met. There was one client I assisted at Logan, for example, who could neither walk nor talk – although he could make noises. He could not see much but he could hear. His name was Royce and he adored me. He knew my voice, he would squeeze my fingers so tight I couldn’t move them when I would give him my hand, he would get this huge smile on his face when the other caretakers told him “Laura is coming today” – he knew my name. He would also sing (in his own way of course) the Notre Dame Fight Song when we would tell him to.The problem is not the disabilities of those with severe disabilities like Terri Schindler-Schiavo or Lauren Marie Richardson. The real “disability” is the fact that by continuing to advocate a “quality of life” mentality society improperly puts a value on the lives of people with disabilities as being nothing based on what they cannot do. As a person with a disability myself, I cannot imagine someone deciding my life is not valuable because I cannot do something or that I have to do something differently. I am a person, not my disability. We must use our voices to advocate for all people with disabilities, especially those who are unable to advocate for themselves due to their disabilities. We must remember Terri Schindler-Schiavo and the inhumane treatment she suffered as a person with a severe disability to the point of death. We must support the life of Lauren Marie Richardson so that another disabled person is not the victim of the “disability” of the “quality of life” mentality. A person is a person no matter how small or great the disability.

Laura HoffmanalumClass of 2004Apr. 9