A world without boundaries, to be independent of mind, free of spirit and steadfast of will – this has been perhaps the universal dream, free for all to wish the stars on no matter the status in life, the obstacles along the way, and the qualities and circumstances that make us unable to see these things the same way the rest of the world does. In reality, though, to see the world as a free space for growth, learning and expression remains a dream for those deprived of the equal chance to make their defining mark – such as in the case of people with learning disabilities. More often, free thoughts and efforts are hampered by discrimination against learning disabilities instead of having these fostered and honed to introduce bright, fresh perspectives and a new way of doing things.
School: the last place we ever thought would be guilty of discriminating
And Brigid of the University of Moncton might just be living proof of that. School, what used to be a safe and nurturing learning environment may now be threatening her shot at the future she has dreamed of having, all because the university is now alleged to have perpetrated discrimination against learning disabilities in refusing Brigid more time to complete her requirements in certain courses of the nursing program she is currently enrolled in. Brigid appeals that her tactile learning method is the only way for her to effectively grasp new concepts and understand the lessons they’re taught – something her professors in the first degree she completed understood and gave her adequate time for. Life at the University of Moncton’s nursing program has been exactly the opposite for Brigid who goes on with her daily life with ADHD and anxiety, causing her to have learning disabilities she must cope with. Because of her learning disability, all she was asking for was more time to practice in her clinical courses something the university was quick to disapprove of, and thereby perpetrating discrimination against learning disabilities.
The University of Moncton’s nursing program staff gave Brigid a failing mark in one of her clinical courses for failure to complete the requirements within a given time – the same time given to her fellow students who had no learning disabilities whatsoever, very much unlike her. Even the university’s student federation extends the same grievance, citing all the school did was discriminate Brigid, instead of providing a safe, free space for her to properly learn, exactly the opposite of the very essence of learning. The program staff refused to give her reconsideration by overturning her failing mark, and even refused to give her the little additional time she needed to complete the assignments and successfully pass the course. In the course of her appeal, the program staff threatened to expel her while making derogatory comments on her condition and subsequent inability to pass the course successfully. No matter how much Brigid wishes to just move on and continue with her education, she finds she is unable to do so, as no other school or program is able to accept her due to the failing mark on her record.
With her failing mark and nowhere to go, Brigid is forced to spend twelve months out of school, and instead find ways outside the school system to champion her cause. The very environment she counted on to be a safe, nurturing space for free thinking and unhampered learning is the same institution that is now hindering her from living to her fullest potential, and even going as far as discriminating her.
Just like our old, backward days
Brigid’s struggle makes us think of the progress we’ve made so far in championing equal rights and opportunities – ten steps forward, but now, some backward because of discrimination cases like hers. There may be more laws and mandates now that clearly state people with disabilities should be given equally accessible opportunities and due accommodation to compete with the rest of the market, but in reality, a lot of these efforts look better on paper and have stayed there, instead of translating to everyday living. As such, the struggle for equal opportunities and our efforts to fully eradicate discrimination must never waver.
What most people who end up discriminating those around them living with disabilities fail to see is that a disability – such as Brigid’s learning ones – are not burdens that require the extra, undeserved attention. It also doesn’t mean that people with disabilities will from then on need preferential treatment to survive among their perfectly healthy peers. Rather, living in a world that is free from any discrimination and truly strives to make learning free, safe and enriching means recognizing multiple intelligences through providing time and nurturing with patience. This means exploring various learning methods and embracing the fresh, new perspectives and methods that allow for a more holistic evolution of learning. It means never having to be confined in a box, and instead truly embracing diversity and growth we have never before seen, yet know that would be good for those around us with unique needs and challenges. It means making the world friendly and truly worthy of being the space populated by great ideas and change-making actions.
Fight discrimination today and you and your loved ones will never have to live in doubt again
The world that deserves to be populated by great ideas and change-making actions has no room for discrimination. The people you can trust and share your desire in living in a world truly without borders and sees potential beyond disabling conditions are eager to help you get started on making the shared dream come true. Help end discrimination against learning disabilities today. Stand with Brigid, stand with your loved ones.