An Interview with Dr. Lou Brown

Guideposts for the future

Produced in 1987 (Run time 5:06)


Ed Scarolu: Lou, one last question. If you could envision the future, what would you see?

Dr. Lou Brown: Well, I think integration. I think they're some guideposts, you know? Like I think segregation's got to go. Segregated schools must close. I'm hoping that there are no institutions in my lifetime. I'm hoping that there are no more segregated schools. I'm hoping that there are no more, you know, group homes. What I… I'm looking for very simple things. I want people to live in a decent family style home, you know? A decent family style home.

If you ask anybody what they want for their child, no matter who their child is, you've got to start with a decent home. That's the single most important thing in anybody's life is the way they live, right? And I think that's realizable. I think that's realizable. That we can arrange for people, the most disabled people in our culture, to live in decent places. To me, that's the number one priority.

Now, obviously, you've got to have a good school program that's relevant and meaningful and it doesn't teach dumb stuff or prepare people to sit around and do nothing with their lives. We have to make some really major changes in the educational system. And I think they're coming. I think the pressures are there. When people are… When they finish 21 years of public education, what's the purpose of it? Well, it's to prepare people to do real work in a real world. It's a major part of an educational program. Not the only part, but a major part.

And so I see no more activity centers, no more work jobs. I see people with severe disabilities all across the nation working side by side, physically working next to non-disabled people. Now that's a reality and every week… I mean by the time we took to tape this interview, probably five people with disabilities in this country got real jobs in the real world. With support now. I mean, that's a reality over and over and over and over. I think just like we saw institutions, we're going to see those activity centers go, and that's fun.

Now, so when you take… When you live in a decent place, you do real work in the real world, there are two culturally respected goals for everybody in our society. And I think that you have friends. You've got to have friends. See, there's a great problem with people with disabilities is that you've got to pay people to be with them. You've got to pay people to be with them.

When we started studying the life spaces of our folks, life spacing meaning 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, you know what you find? You're either with your family or people who are paid to be with you. And that's got to go. And the reason for that is we have not spent enough time developing or arranging or allowing friendships to develop between people with and without disabilities. So we want to…and have fun.

So have friends and have fun in real places. Not, you know, the retarded dance or the retarded swimming or circus day for the retarded. We're talking about in the same activities and environments at the same times as non-disabled people. That's becoming an increasing priority. And to use the community. To use the community. To use the streets and the buses and the stores and the shops and the parks.

And so when you put all of those together, what do you have? You have somebody who lives in a decent place, somebody who does real work in the real world, somebody who has fun with friends, and somebody who uses the richness and variety of the community. Now when you say something like that, Ed, you know what they say? Radical. Extremist. And all you're asking is that they give people a decent quality of life.

Ed Scarolu: Super. Thank you.

For more information visit the DDI web site at