Dear editor:

As a person with a disability, I found your May 2 cover story, “Life Sentence,” offensive and demeaning. The mere title suggests living in a wheelchair and using synthesized voice to communicate is equivalent to a prison sentence.

I use a wheelchair and a communication device like Orozco to maintain my full-time job. The main message from your article was, don’t get involved in gangs or you might end up disabled for the rest of your life. What does this say about a person living with a disability? How different is this kind of fearmongering than homophobia, another form of irrational prejudice?

Furthermore, your article painted Orozco as a poster child for Sheridan Shores nursing home. I hope that Orozco has been informed that he has the right to live in his own apartment, with support, rather than stay in Sheridan Shores. Many people like Orozco have been liberated from nursing homes under existing state programs.

Disability isn’t a prison; nursing homes and other institutions are the real prisons.

I’d also like to say that George Houde’s use of the terms “wheelchair-bound” and “ailing” would probably never have made it past the editors at the Associated Press or the New York Times. They rejected those terms long ago as outdated and offensive to people with disabilities.

Larry Biondi

Independent living advocate–advocacy

Forest Park