Guest Author, Lewis Jackson
During the missile crisis that occurred between Cuba, the United States of America, and the former Soviet Union in the early 1960’s, radio and television kept people informed on a daily basis, a phenomenon unknown to past generations when major events occurred that were of international significance. What few people may know is that the late President John Kennedy could not actually contact the Kremlin by phone, nor could the Kremlin contact the White House. A phone conversation between the leaders of these two superpowers required connecting with the Soviet Embassy in Washington, DC, which had phone links with the Soviet leadership.
In just over fifty years, the potential for communication between all of us has now increased exponentially, making the foregoing story seem almost unbelievable. A popular expression that one hears today is that the world is getting smaller. Given the impact of email connectivity and popular media alone, ideas that might have affected a cluster of people in a small area of the world a few years ago can now spring up in multiple places thousands of miles apart, via the sharing of concepts through both mass media and person-to-person contacts.
What are the implications of the shrinking world for TASH, both as an organization and in terms of its individual members? Perhaps one of the most important implications is that our ideas and values about human rights, human dignity, and educational practice can now readily cross national boundaries, where some ideas may take hold and begin to make a difference in the lives of persons with disabilities and their families in other parts of the world.
In this issue of TASH Connections, you can read about how concepts that we take for granted (e.g., inclusion, self-determination, and transition), and how basic protections that we have come to expect (e.g., prevention of sexual abuse) can potentially play out in countries that have either evolving practices, or still emerging practices, related to these topics. The focus of this international issue is on countries in the Arab Gulf Region and in parts of Asia, but the views and ideas expressed in the papers offered here could be applied to many similar countries in the world. The writers of these papers are all persons with origins in the parts of the world that they are discussing, and all have a stake in seeing positive changes occur in these regions. You should find what they have to say eye-opening and enlightening, and there is the possibility that your own horizons regarding human rights and disability will expand.
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