Golden ticket winner prompts conversation about disabilities

On May 28, Kodi Lee, 22, received a golden ticket on the season premiere of “America’s Got Talent.” The ticket is a fast-track to the show’s live-audition rounds. Lee won the judges and audience over with his rendition of “A Song For You,” by Donny Hathaway. The clip of his audition went viral, attracting more than 300 million views in just one week.

However, there was a stir over the original headline of the video clip, which read “Kodi Lee Defeats Autism and Blindness With Music.”

The problem, say advocates for those with disabilities, is that Lee should be celebrated for his talents alone, and not for the perception of overcoming his disabilities. The Center for Disability Rights (CDR), a not-for-profit, community-based advocacy and service organization for people with all types of disabilities, sent a statement to the online news outlet Huffpost saying in part, “Kodi Lee’s disabilities are as much a part of his identity as one’s heritage or culture. While we agree that Kodi Lee is incredibly talented with his voice and piano skills, we want to be clear that one can be both talented and disabled.”

The incident is a good reminder that for many, their disability is part of their identity, not something that needs overcoming.