Advent is a time of waiting. Waiting, however, doesn’t necessarily mean sitting and doing nothing. We are called to act to bring about justice, and to wait expectantly for the results we know will come eventually. I was able to do just that this past week, in my role as a social worker. I have a professional and ethical responsibility to advocate for change where it’s needed, especially when people are put in vulnerable positions, or are already vulnerable for any reason.
Several weeks ago, when I was applying for paid ministry positions, I discovered the same question on applications for two different places. The question not only irritated me, but really concerned me. The question was: “Are you disabled? Yes/No?” As someone who is legally blind, I don’t appreciate being called “disabled”, because of the implications of the word. Nowhere on the application did it have anything about reasonable accommodationsor space to explain what the disability may be. It seemed wrong because based on that one answer, a perfectly qualified candidate could be ruled out.
I did some research and found out that it did indeed violate Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). I wrote to the person in charge of the human resources department at each business telling them what I had found and quoting the paragraph within the body of my letter. I told them both that the application question was a violation of the civil rights and privacy of any applicant, and that it needed to be worded more appropriately. I didn’t blame them personally, but said I would like to hear from them, explaining what they would do to address this situation.
Now I’m waiting to see what they will do and when. (For more information on the laws protecting the rights of people with disabilities, go to www.ada.gov.)