News and opinions on disability
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Disability – not the end of the world!

An illustration of a close-up of two hands holding a phone. In the phone screen, there is the upper body of a girl in blue with upraised arms and a confused expression on her face. On the right side, there is a speech bubble in which there is a girl sitting on a wheelchair. On the left side, there is another bubble in which there is a girl standing with crutches.

People seem to assume that having a disability is the worst thing in the world and we should be “fixed”. But to be honest, the fact that I get around on four wheels rather than two feet doesn’t faze me all that much. I have a great life, with amazing people to share it with.

It’s not the disability itself – or even the things you can’t see that are associated with my disability – that troubles me most of the time. What limits me more than any physical access or mobility issues, are the negative perspectives about disability, and the feeling that whatever I do I have to do it 110+% just to be anywhere near level-pegging with my contemporaries – every day, both personally and professionally, I have to prove myself. I feel this stigma is unjustified.

As people with disabilities, we know how to keep pushing when the odds are stacked up against us physically, mentally, emotionally and then some. We have a strong mental resolve that can only be shaped through the experiences of living with a disability. I don’t want to inspire you – I want to be your equal!

For example, why must my friend’s dad assume, upon first meeting me, that I am completely helpless? And when he learns I have followed a path in life not too dissimilar from his daughter, he is amazed. WHY? Since getting to know each other we are now on very good terms – we understand one another. He has even opened up to me to speak about struggles he and his family are having (see, everyone has them!).

Although it was a short interaction, in that moment I finally felt like an equal. A leader even, as I was providing my unique view and guidance. He now sees me for me, he sees my genuineness, and he sees my worth.

On another occasion, someone suggested that I read a book about a wheelchair user who learned to walk. I was pretty offended, even hurt, at the time (though I didn’t show it). I was a little surprised I had such a strong reaction! But thinking about it I realised that was because, from my perspective, it looked like that person wasn’t accepting the way I am. Again, from their perspective I need to be fixed. I understand that they want the best for me. But making me feel so undervalued certainly isn’t the best for me! Working for CCS Disability Action I have learnt to value myself more, and the value that ALL people bring. I know that nobody is perfect – far from it sometimes!

Everyone needs to work to better themselves.

If more people in society, even those working within the sector and in whatever role; could understand, act and speak appropriately rather than judge – starting with those at the ‘top of the totem pole’ – it would be a much easier world for us ALL to be a part of. We live in ever changing times….. Let’s not let our prejudices get in the way, let’s make it a change for the good!

By Jacqui Carlson, Human Resource Administrator, CCS Disability Action.

This blog first appeared on the Inclusive Action – Everyday Lives blog and has been republished with permission.