Saturday, August 22, 2009

Curb Cuts, etc.

Years ago it was rare to see people using wheelchairs in public even though many people needed them, often as a result of the Polio epidemic in the 1940s.
Then came the Americans with Disabilities Act. By requiring curb cuts and ramps in all new or remodeled public buildings it opened up possibilities to thousands of people who had previously been limited in where they could go.
Curb cuts and ramps have also made things more convenient for people pushing babies in strollers, kids riding bikes and (perhaps unfortunately) for skateboarders.
Motorized wheelchairs have also opened up possibilities that didn't exist before, as have technological advances in prosthetics, hearing aids, artificial joints, pacemakers, and many other things. And medical advances in general have made it possible for people to survive who would have died from diseases and injuries in the past.
All those things are wonderful, but maybe we've gotten a bit spoiled by them. We tend to think if only enough time and money is spent researching a specific problem a cure is guaranteed to be discovered someday. But would we really want that to happen? What if nobody ever died from an illness or injury? There would soon be so many humans on the planet we'd be dying from starvation instead, or maybe governments would "euthanize" some of us so the rest could survive.
Okay, I must admit I'm a fiction writer and my imagination might be getting a bit out of control here. But it's certainly true that we can be grateful for all the advances that have been made.

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