FEBRUARY 16, 1939
ELMIRA, N.Y., Wednesday—After attending George Holmes' funeral yesterday, I left Washington on the 1:00 o'clock plane in order to do a few things in New York City before Mrs. Morgenthau and I took the night train to Elmira, New York. I will tell you tomorrow about the play we saw last night and the interesting things which we are seeing today. I want to tell you now about a letter which has come to me and which I feel brings home a point which so many of us fail to realize.
The letter, in part, says: "Just at present the infantile paralysis drive is on. The papers are full of it and we hear it on the radio constantly. I earnestly hope that the drive will reap a great sum to help care and cure unfortunate victims of the disease. The majority of people feel as I do and many will donate sums of money. But how many will, if they were asked, be willing to give these poor victims a chance to earn a living when they have recovered?
"My daughter was stricken in the 1916 epidemic and, as a result, her left arm is partially paralyzed. In spite of her handicap she studied stenography and typing and found employment as a legal stenographer. Illness caused her to give up her position and now she cannot get another one, the reason being `her arm.' Because her references and work seem satisfactory, she is able to secure positions, but after the employers notice that her left arm is paralyzed, she is asked to leave.
"If her work does not suffer as a consequence of her paralyzed arm, why should she and others in a like position, be so cruelly penalized sometimes by those who consider themselves 'charitable?'They will give her money but not a helping hand."
This was made vivid for me in going through the employment offices in Washington the other day. In each division they have a special individual who gives his attention solely to the interviewing of physically handicapped people. He has to make every effort to interview employers and practically sell the handicapped individuals before he says anything about their handicap. Usually he finds they can hold the jobs satisfactorily if they are once engaged and kept for a long enough period, so that the mere fact of a visible handicap does not react against them. It is true that in some cases a person has to be in evidence a great deal and and the handicap is disfiguring. It may be impossible for an employer to employ them in that kind of work. In many cases, however, work can be fitted to the individual and, since these people must earn a living under a greater handicap than the average person, it seems only fair that we should carry our interest into this employment phase as well as into the primary curative phase.