Prior to Australia’s federation in 1901, persons who were blind or vision impaired were forbidden to travel interstate not out of colonial concern for our well-being or even liability whilst en route, but despite our wealth, standing and level of independence as persons with a disability, due to said disability, we were automatically labeled indigent. Travel permissions were provided by the government on an individual basis as needs arose.. We were not allowed to vote either (male or female, despite South Australia having enacted near universal suffrage in the late 1890’s till after Federation). Increasingly, governments are enacting draconian laws in the guise of assistance that will hurt the disabled. Persons with a disability are the unseen minority who have suffered savagely under totalitarian regimes repeatedly during the twentieth century; Hitler’s Germany introduced and perfected its killing skills on we the disabled.
Murder of the Handicapped
Nazi Killing of the Disabled
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To heck with Godwin’s law, to put it bluntly.
Forced sterilisation of disabled persons in Australia continued to be commonly practiced, sometimes without the knowledge of said individuals themselves, up until the early 1980’s and has not yet disappeared from our nation altogether despite rampant actavism by disability groups.
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During an Early Childhood Special Needs lecture given at the University of Western Sydney in late 2007, it was revealed that 90% of unborn children with Downes Syndrome in Australia never draw a single breath!! God help us!! Back in 1970, I was born , when I should have come into the world on 25 December, weighing only 750g. The doctors gave me 24, then 48 hours, then a week. After four months in hospital in a 90% oxygen atmospheric environment, I was released to my family. The cost was the loss of almost all my vision, along with additional moderate yet irritating health conditions. Nowadays, would Peter Singer et al allow me to live? It appears he has disturbing designs for those of us born with disability or those of us who acquire it soon after birth.
Persons with a disability have even lost our dedicated voice within the Australian government.
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In new South Wales, persons with a vision impairment or blindness were denied compulsory education until 1944, and even then, only until the age of eleven.
Some blind trailblazers attempted to go to university in Australia as early as the late 1890’s in the case of Tilley Aston (Victoria) and the early 1930’s in the case of Mercy Dickenson (Queensland) these efforts were either unsuccessful (sadly in Tilley Aston’s case) or only hard won after much volunteer assistance re Mercy Dickenson. re help with the transcription of print material into useable formats. Compulsory provision of assistance for students with disability at tertiary level e.g. accessible buildings for students in wheelchairs, sign interpreters, transcribers for amputees and those with paralysis, provision of Braille, electronic format and loan of expensive blindness technology that often costs in the thousands to allow a person with vision impairment or blindness to do what a sighted person does for free with their eyes did not come into effect until 2005. Those who struggled as pioneers relying on family or volunteers to read aloud to them have commented candidly regarding the permanent psychological cost, a mark or scar if you will, that they live with even down to this day due to the immense stresses brought about by such conditions. Yet faculty at large Australian tertiary institutions continue to actively hamper promising teaching undergraduates re placement into the mainstream schooling system, with government and independent authorities colluding by hampering the accreditation process for blind and vision impaired candidates; ludicrous considering blind teachers have taught within the sighted school system in the US since the 1920’s, as revealed in the amazing work ‘the Unseen Minority’ by Frances A. Koestler, a fascinating and sometimes chilling account of blindness history within said nation.
It is within this book that I learnt of the amazing Fr. Klein who single handedly, approximately two centuries ago back in the early 1800’s devised a systematic training of guide dogs and their handlers that has remained largely unchanged to this day, forming the core of the modern guide dog movement that emerged in Germany during the closing years of the first world war. Fr. Klein deserves at least consideration in matters of elevation to the altar - a patron saint of the dog guide movement would be a wonderful gift of Holy Mother Church indeed! But I digress. I do fear for our lot in the coming years and decades. As Mark Twain is credited with having said, ‘History does not always repeat, but it always rhymes’.