An outright ban of the plastic straw is not an inclusive policy, but, rather, downright exclusive.” – Glenda Watson-Hyatt, CPABC member
The Cerebral Palsy Association of BC does not agree with an outright ban on plastic straws. We believe that plastic straws should be readily available for anyone with a disability when they request one. There are many valid reasons why people with disabilities need plastic straws. Here, we have listed a few of these reasons.
Reasons why people with disabilities need plastic straws
- Dyphasia: The consequences of dysphasia, the medical term for difficulty swallowing, are potentially life threatening. The risks include choking and aspiration of fluids leading to pneumonia. Repeated episodes often result in premature death.
- Mobility: People living with cerebral palsy and other disabilities may use a straw because their hand mobility is limited. The straw offers flexibility without being dangerous.
- Involuntary bite reaction: Individuals with poor motor control sometimes have an involuntary bite reaction when they swallow. They need a material that does not collapse or fall apart from the bite, but also does not chip their teeth.
If a safe alternative is invented, will it be affordable and easy to purchase? Some people with disabilities live in remote communities and not everyone has access to online shopping. Until a reasonably priced, accessible, safe solution is formulated, businesses should support the right for anyone to request a plastic straw if they need one.
Please refrain from judgement when a person with a disability asks for a straw. The best way to fight the further stigmatization of people with disabilities is through education.
I implore people to stop, think and listen to why a plastic straw ban will not work for everyone. Listen to the lived experiences of people with disabilities who do require the ubiquitous plastic straw.” – Glenda Watson-Hyatt
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