As a writer and advocate for people with disabilities and mobile challenges, I have gotten a lot of feedback about my pieces. The positive comments, the relative individual sentiments and the critical reviews -- every word a fellow in disability awareness.
I personally would rather just tell you the problems and challenges I have and need solved, and create solutions to them, rather than tell you my whole life story to solicit these kind of emotions from you just to convince you to help a fellow human in need.
We all have a personal and unique experience with disability. And we all have a story -- whether personally affected, in care of or know of a friend or relative with a disability, a caregiver or spouse of someone who has a disability. At the end of it all, we all have challenges of disabilities within our lives or will at some point as we age or encounter illness or injury, and we all will need a little help beyond ourselves.
With just about everyone at some point in their lives bound to have a disability or know someone who does, I have to point out the denial our society seems to share about this fact. A fact proven by how our society treats and accommodates those with disabilities currently and it's disgraceful.
It directly reflects on us as humans to be so unaccommodating and lacking in tolerance and acceptance of those of us with disabilities. We are as we treat those who cannot help themselves.
Whether we have the means and intent to accommodate the demands of disability personally or socially, or if we struggle to understand a view that we cannot fathom being a part of, we all need to come to a better understanding of what it means to be disabled; we as a society need to ask ourselves how we can better help, instead of arguing about why or whether or not it's worth it.
The real issues of those with disabilities needs to be better addressed. We need to shift this sad and pitied, shallow, discriminating and oppressive perspective and change the way we see and deal with disabilities as a whole.
Although it is assumed a misfortune to have a disability to handle within your life, there really should be no shame or pity in having one. Those of us with disabilities are proven to have superior skills to adapting to our environments. Unfortunately it's the naive "able-bodied" majority of our society that insists having a disability is a terrible thing.
There are two sides to being disabled. Just as you can be empowered when you've overcome a disability, there is fear and hopelessness in the harder-to-deal-with aspects. But why is the message provided us to be ashamed of the way we have adapted to sharing this planet?
Instead of encouraging those of us with challenges to overcome them and expand those adaptability skills, we instead determine disability to be dreaded and a burden. Currently the access to accommodations for our other abilities via equipment, therapies, treatments, medications, surgeries, etc. are severely limited and deemed not worth the effort if you don't have the cash.
I've been told that sometimes my pieces can be a bit negative, or draw pity from a reader. I also have my more inspiring, triumphant pieces. It's about balance and truth. It's reality in life, having a disability doesn't somehow add this element into the mix.
I feel that it's the feeling of pity and sadness associated with disability that needs to change. From the perspective of someone who has a disability, it's like having pity for me because my eyes are grey, or because my hair is short.
Here's the thing: Disability IS normal and is a key component to the variety of life. Just because right now society has decided to simplify its view of all types and forms of disability and cast a negative connotation to the word itself, doesn't mean the more challenging aspects of being disabled are solicitations for pity.
But rather, suggestions for areas in need of improvement. And we need to be listening better.
We can't and shouldn't always show the sunnier side of life when it comes to disabilities. In fact, I feel it to be detrimental to the awareness and advocacy of ALL disabilities across the board.
Without discussions and perspective pieces about the struggles within disability, we wouldn't be able to adequately accommodate those of whom who need help and services for their disabilities. We wouldn't be aware of what's needed, instead resulting in further oppression due to ignorance.
Next time you read, hear of or think of a story or situation, or a person with disabilities and you feel sadness or pity for them or the circumstance, you are creating this mental barrier that prevents people from seeing the black and white of their issues.
Don't pity or discount me because I am disabled or my situation because of it; help me accommodate my abilities and encourage me to be be more and change my situation for the better with the abilities I DO have.