Imagine the employment rate among cripples is still as God-awful low as always. It hasn’t improved much in the two decades since the ADA was signed. I’m very surprised by this. As I watched the ADA signing ceremony on the White House lawn that glorious day in 1990, I was sure that employers across the nation were now saying, “Whew! Thank God that bill was signed. Now we can finally start hiring cripples like we’ve always wanted! Nothing can stop us now!”
The last hard data on cripple employment I have is from 2010, when the Kessler Foundation joined with the National Organization on Disability and Harris Interactive to survey 411 human resources managers and senior executives about their cripple hiring practices. The survey concluded that only two of 10 working age crips are employed.
I don’t know if there’s been a more recent survey, but I don’t think it matters anyway. That same group has teamed up on such employment surveys before and their 2010 findings were pretty much the same as their 1995 findings.
Not even a couple of wars could make the job prospects better for us. A brand new war can be a bright source of hope for people who can’t usually find jobs. With all those hirable young men off fighting somewhere, the labor pool can get tight, and employers can get pretty damn desperate. So employers break down and recruit those they usually have the luxury of ignoring, like women. Remember the Rosie the Riveter posters during World War II? But can you imagine how hard up employers would have to feel before they would print up posters with a one-armed Rosie or a Rosie in a wheelchair in an attempt to recruit cripples? Wartime may be hell, but things have never gotten that bad.
Nope, unemployed cripples can’t even pray for war. But I wonder if anybody has ever calculated the employment rate among fake cripples. I bet it’s consistently high and getting higher every day. Fake cripples get a lot of the jobs real cripples should be getting. Like I hear NBC is bringing back the detective show Ironside. Who knows why? There must’ve been a clamor. Raymond Burr was the crime-solving fake cripple in the original series. The new crime-solving fake cripple is Blair Underwood. It seems there will be four new network prime time shows with lead characters who are crippled. But the only real cripple playing one of those roles is Michael J. Fox.
Fake cripples always snatch up all the plum cripple jobs like these. Nobody pretends to be crippled so they can score a sweet gig at Goodwill. But you would think that with all these actors pretending to be crippled, it would result in ancillary job opportunities for enterprising real cripples. I mean, if Blair Underwood was playing a Romanian, he would need a Romanian dialect coach if he wanted to be believable, right? So if he wants to be believable as a cripple, then he’s going to need some real cripples to coach him on the finer points, like a spasm coach or a drooling coach. Can’t we hire ourselves out for that?
But that’s the problem. The producers and directors that hire actors to be fake cripples don’t want them to be that believable as cripples. They just want the actor to imply crippledness, not actually embody it. If we make them go all overboard with that politically correct authenticity stuff, that defeats the whole purpose. They might as well hire real cripples.
So maybe we need to go back to that strategy of praying for war. Maybe the problem is we haven’t been praying hard enough. Maybe we should pray for an all-out nuclear war where the only forms of life that survive are cockroaches, cripples and human resources managers.
Maybe then we’ll make a little progress.