Discrimination against disabled people: For more autism in politics

This week, a comment by the FDP’s EU top candidate Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann made headlines. She wanted to criticize the Chancellor. But in reality, she discriminated against people. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated case.

It was several years ago that an AfD MP gave a speech in the Bundestag in which he denied people with Down syndrome the ability to be educated in the broadest sense. In an interview with MDR, AfD regional leader Björn Höcke spoke out against inclusive school measures. He claimed that teaching non-disabled and disabled children together would harm the educational elite. This week, the FDP’s top candidate for the European elections, Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, accused Chancellor Olaf Scholz of having “autistic traits”. She meant this in a negative way. She later apologized to autistic people. This apology would not have been necessary if Ms. Strack-Zimmermann had thought about what she was saying beforehand. Scholz is not known to have made such verbal outbursts.

It is not often that politicians discriminate against disabled people with stupid sayings. The time when people with disabilities were expected to be well-behaved, grateful and sexless is long gone. The everyday discrimination against people with disabilities has also decreased significantly. More and more non-disabled people are losing their fear of contact. Disabled people are daring to go out in public and are increasingly loudly insisting on their rights. This includes being integrated into society. Laws that support disabled people help with this.

But then there are these little pinpricks that disabled people experience again and again: the company coffee machine with sensor buttons that the blind employee cannot operate; the suburban train station without an escalator, whose elevator is constantly broken so that it cannot be used by people who are using a wheelchair; thoughtless and unnecessary statements by politicians. And these are just three of many examples.

That happens, but it’s becoming increasingly rare. Normality is different. Few readers of my posts on ntv.de know that I can’t see anything. ntv.de doesn’t attach any importance to that. Neither do I.

Inclusive training is the reason why I can do this job. In Munich, blind and visually impaired people have been trained as online editors for 16 years now. Many programs for building and maintaining websites can be used by blind people, and artificial intelligence in many cases ensures equal treatment for disabled and non-disabled people. I am also a fan of ChatGPT.

What works in the workplace also works in your free time. The integration of people with disabilities is a matter of give and take on both sides. Disabled people have become part of society. But it is a daily struggle. Politicians should keep this in mind, especially those from democratic parties. That is why it is not appropriate to compare a Federal Chancellor with people with autism. Quite the opposite. When I listen to the excited comments of politicians like Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, I sometimes think: maybe a little more autism in politics would do us good.

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