The Disabled: Are Preferential Policies the Answer?

Brian Thomas, January 2007

To the Editor:

The article " Disability and the Transformation of Historians' Public Sphere" in the November 2006 issue of Perspectives caused me some concern. Specifically, the authors' suggestion of promoting recruitment, retention, and promotion of scholars and students with disabilities seemed problematic. While I recognize that discrimination against, or discount of, individuals based on their disability is wrong, the suggestion seems just as off base. As a person with a disability, I would consider it quite offensive to have my personal physical problems considered a plus when being reviewed for employment. Although my personal disability, epilepsy, is not apparent and I choose not to disclose this information in hiring (for the possibility of getting preferential or discriminator treatment), I am sure the majority of those with disabilities are of a similar mind. Yes, disabilities should be recognized and their physical impediments should not be disqualifying factors in employment (except where it seriously disrupts the basic necessities of the job), but preferential policies are not the answer.

—Brian Thomas, Colorado State University Alumnus