In a (very belated) nod to Disability Pride Month, which was back in July, I thought I’d do a little piece on why I’m proud to be disabled!
I think the biggest reason I’m proud to be disabled is the disabled community. We’re strong. loud and proud about being disabled, fighting for each other and for change. In finding the disabled community, in real life and in the online world through social media and blogging, I feel like I’ve found my people. The ones I can rant to about ableism or inaccessibility without feeling like I’m complaining or ungrateful (the way I’m sometimes made to seem by the rest of society). When I look at some of the work that’s happening within the disabled community to fight ableism and inaccessibility, it gives me hope for a more accessible and equal future for disabled people.
What It’s Taught Me About Me
Being disabled has also taught me a lot about myself, I’d be lying if I said it hadn’t shaped me as a person. Being disabled given me perseverance to work at overcoming barriers (the literal and structural ones which are VERY obvious when you’re disabled) and the single-minded focus to not let the way society is set up get in the way of me achieving what I want to achieve. I also believe that being disabled is the basis for pretty much all of my problem-solving skills, I’m constantly having to find ways around problems (read: inaccessibility) as a disabled person, and particularly as a disabled person. Being disabled has also given me a wider view of disability. I mean that both in terms of seeing more accessibility adaptations in the world, and more variety in adaptations, than I probably would if I wasn’t disabled. But I also mean it in terms of seeing disability positively for the strength it can be and adaptability it can bring, as opposed to seeing it as the pity party or horrible, pitiful existence that it can be viewed as by the rest of society sometimes.
What’s It’s Taught Me About People
I’ve also learned a lot about people and society in general. Particularly since being active in “advocacy” and the disabled community, you realise that some of the things people say are entirely ridiculous, some of the sentences and questions that come out of peoples’ mouths on a daily basis when they see me in my chair and my only response has to be “excuse me?!”. It also makes you realise that a lot of the misconceptions and biases about disabled people go deeper than you’d think, a lot of the actions or words seen as “helpful” or “compliments” really aren’t and people say or do a lot of stuff without realising how unhelpful and potentially hurtful they can be. I hate to be a Debbie downer here but being disabled really can show you the darker, more upsetting side of society and the way people think.
Nowwwwwww back to the positives. Being disabled has given me so many opportunities that I don’t think I wouldn’t have otherwise had. I highly doubt I would have started this blog if I didn’t have my life as a disabled person as the topic to focus on. And this blog has of course led onto other opportunities including being featured in national media. The opportunity to have legs that are fully functional and allow me to walk unaided? That ship sailed long ago, but so many opportunities have come along BECAUSE that whole “walking unaided” thing didn’t happen.
Who I Am
Mostly I’m proud to be disabled because it’s who I am, and I can’t help but be proud of my own existence. I’ve been disabled since birth; I know no other life than the one I’m currently living. I think that confuses people a fair bit too, when they ask, “if you could take a pill that would make you able bodied would you?” No? I don’t know how to live that life, I know how to live this disabled life, and I feel like I’m quite good at it, so I’ll stick to this life thanks
Then there are of course the little bonuses. Things like queue jumping and barely having to wait in a queue ever. Or getting to ride around on a fancy set of wheels that everyone always says they want. Or having my own personal dancefloor when I’m the only one on the wheelchair accessible platform at gigs. Or the free carer tickets for gigs which essentially mean I get a half price ticket in comparison to everyone else (we LOVE a bargain over here at InvincibleWomanOnWheels).
So, those are the reasons I am proud to be disabled. I hope my fellow disabled people had a great July (as much as can be expected in the current situation) as Disability Pride Month and continue to have a great rest of the year!
Em (Invincible Woman On Wheels)