The dictionary defines handicap as “a circumstance that makes progress or success difficult.” Some synonyms for the word being an impediment.
As the Keynote Speaker for Woodrow Wilson Week, Author Michael Hingson talked about the misconceptions the handicapped deal with and how he managed to survive in a world designed for people unlike him in his lecture Moving From Diversity to Inclusion: How To Change Our Perceptions and Overcome Our Own Inner Handicaps. Hingson wasn’t born blind, but became so due to medical malpractice. Through humor and vivid description, he related stories about the discriminations he had to face his entire life.
“You may not be able to control change, but you can control how you react to it,” said Hingson during the event.
Hingson described how people who are disabled are generally treated worse in life. There is a 60% employment rate for able to work disabled people compared to the 4% nation-wide of employment.
Hingson focuses his story not about the traumatic event he lived through in the World Trade Center, but how he didn’t let his disability stop him from surviving the event. He was blind and helped lead people 78 floors down one of the World Trade Center buildings.
“Overall, the presentation was enjoyable because throughout the talk he was tossing in small jokes here and there for the audience to relate to him,” said Michael Boland, a student that attended the event.
The message of controlling one’s perspective and allowing it to drive us forward was the main message Hingson wanted to get across. The event ended with Hingson taking questions and allowing people to pet his service dog, Africa.