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Why the College Admissions Scandal Harms Students With Learning Disabilities

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Like many people, I read the breaking college admission scandal with interest. I wasn’t too surprised that wealthy people used their money to get ahead. Is classism really a surprise to anyone at this point?

I was surprised that Singer’s company falsely claimed that many students had learning disabilities to get special accommodations such as extended time and individualized settings. I’m not usually one to point out ableism, mostly because a lot of people are just plain ignorant of how their actions and attitudes are ableist. However, it is disgusting that anyone would falsely claim a learning disability as a non-disabled person.

My daughter has invisible learning disabilities and these accommodations are in place to help level the playing field. They are not in place to give perfectly non-disabled people a step up. If I hadn’t read it for myself I’m not sure I would believe it. Who is that low? Would these same people feign paralysis and ride around in a wheelchair to get some advantage? Do they have no shame?

My daughter works a thousand times harder than the average student just to be able to learn, and she achieves small successes only due to these accommodations. It makes me sick to know a student who has no learning disabilities faked one. It makes me more angry than had I known they just cheated.  It’s more disgusting than pretending you were an athlete when you really weren’t (which many did as well).

This is the most blatant form of ableist behavior and shows overt disrespect and obvious discrimination against those who struggle with actual learning disabilities — individuals who already put in extraordinary effort and time just to be on the same playing field as their non-disabled peers.

If anything, it strengthens my resolve to keep fighting for disability rights, not only for my daughter but for all those with invisible disabilities. It strengthens my resolve to keep spreading awareness.  To keep advocating. To keep raising my voice for those who can’t, because their voices matter too.

Getty image by basar17.

Originally published: March 19, 2019
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