In 1995, a woman named Heather Whitestone won the honor of Miss America. The thing is, she was deaf from infancy, and was the first disabled woman to win Miss America. It was no small feat, to be sure. Now, with a cochlear implant, she can hear, but her legacy lives on. During the many interviews with her and her family that followed, her mother stated that the reason Heather had accomplished so much is because her mother "wouldn't let her be deaf." She forced her child to learn how to function in normal society without the aid of an interpereter, like most deaf people. In fact, she only got help with her disability between age 12 and high school, when she was enrolled in a school for the deaf. Possibly because of her push to 'not be deaf,' she learned to fit in better in normal society, learned to talk and to read lips, and was able to win the honor of Miss America. However, the statements of her mother to that effect have set back special education and the overall plight of the disabled by decades. Disabled people are called disabled for a reason, and since they're disabled, they need special treatment. People incapable of hearing need an ASL interpereter. People who can't see need a note-taker for the chalkboard and braille books. People who can't walk need ramps and wheelchairs. It doesn't help them any to go out of your way to treat them like everybody else. Like you do for everybody else, you need to be accomadating. You don't make store shelves 7 feet tall because some people are short. You also put ramps up at stores because some people can't walk. However, in our PC society, you're not allowed to do anything concerning a person's handicap becuase it might remind them that they're handicapped and make them depressed. You know, I think they realize that they're handicapped, and they've probably learned to deal with it. Commenting on it actually makes them feel a lot better since you're not walking on eggshells in an attempt not to offend them. I'm curious about handicapped people and I always ask questions. I've even asked if they were unfomfortable about my questions, but they actually liked talking about it, and it's made me some fascinating friends. What was most fascinating were the mechanisms for operating a cripple's car. Some rigs have an airline-type throttle, and they're always completely incorporated into the steering wheel. Finally, a bit of conversation I had with a blind student at college. The typical PC, liberal crowd was horrified and thought I was such a despicable person for saying this, but I got a nice reaction out of the blind guy. So we're walking down the sidewalk with his dog (a working dog, of course), and both of us fail to notice a branch at about forehead level (by both of us, I mean me and the dog. The other guy was blind, and branches don't make noise). So anyway, the guy walks right into the branch, and pretty hard, too. Since he wasn't expecting it, it flattened him. I could see he was fine, but I bent down and started to help him up when I said, "Hey, are you ok? How many fingers am I holding up?" and held up 3 fingers on my hand. I thought I was about to be stoned by the people who saw the incident when he said, "Fingers? What fingers? OH NO!! I'M BLIND!!" Then we both laughed for, like, five minutes straight. Bottom line is: They're handicapped. Get over it. They have.