I was pontificating in front of a class of college students the other day, giving an impassionate dissertation on the painfully long struggle of people with disabilities for a seat at the table, any table, when I realized only four people were listening. Three were napping, a half dozen were texting on their iPhones, and the rest were just staring at me like I was speaking Chinese. The four that seemed to be listening were whacking away furiously on their laptops, appearing to be writing down every illuminating word out of my mouth. But, then again, how did I know what they were writing? I even stopped speaking a time or two to see if they would stop typing. They did, which made me feel good. Then again, I thought later, maybe they were hip to my trickery and played along accordingly.
Driving home, it occurred to me: Sure, they didn’t care, but why should they care? Unless they themselves are disabled, or their mother, or younger brother, what does disability have to do with their lives? Other “protected” classes, as they are called — blacks, Hispanics, LGBT (in some locales, anyway) and last but not least, wome