Friday, April 18, 2014

Disabled People Need Three Things

Ideas topic iconI had fun a couple weeks ago writing a three-part series of blog posts on different forms of "Ableism”. So, I have decided to do another series, this time fleshing out another “grand unified theory” of disability. I will argue that disabled people of all kinds only really need three things:

1. Accessibility

2. Money

3. Agency

Over the next three days, I will explain what I mean by each of these. For now I just want to clarify that when I talk about things disabled people need, I don’t count things everyone needs … like food, clothes, and shelter. I’m not talking about curing any diseases or lessening our disabilities through therapies. To me, those are separate concerns. What I am looking it is what people with disabilities uniquely need to live well with their disabilities.

Why am I doing this?

I'm doing it because I think we sometimes get so caught up in specific goals that we lose sight of what we really after. There are thousands of disability-related policies to advocate, hard-won victories to defend, and small, incremental improvements to shoot for. But really, they all relate in some way to these three things ... Accessibility, Money, and Agency. Or, they should relate, and if we are working our asses off for something that doesn't relate, then maybe that's a sign we should reassess what we are doing.

Stay tuned!

Photo Of The Day

Photo of a blonde teenager with glasses, standing with he help of a blue wheeled walker, with country road and trees in background
From the Fight Tumblr blog.

Best Article On Assistive Devices

That Crazy Crippled Chick - March 30, 2014

One of the interesting things about “disability pride” is that for people who don’t actually have it, it probably seems like kind of a feeble, made-up attempt to turn lemons into lemonade. I used to think that, myself. I never really felt bad about my disability, but the idea of showing it, embracing it, or celebrating it seemed almost nonsensical to me.

One of the first ways I began to understand a different view was through observing how a lot of disabled people come to see their wheelchairs, crutches, and other assistive devices as more than just tools. I experienced it myself when I used a scooter throughout college and graduate school, and in the same period started using a ventilator at night to help me breathe. I never felt stigmatized by them, and soon I started to feel grateful for them almost like one is grateful to a person. Seeing my scooter or my ventilator after being away from them for a bit made me feel comfort, like I was coming home in a sense.

As I met other disabled people, and got to know some of them online, one thing thing that the happiest, most independent of them had in common was an intimacy and sense of fun about their devices. I don’t know which comes first though. Do you come to embrace and love your wheelchair because you embrace and take pride in your disability identity? Or, does incorporating a wheelchair into your look and personality help you accept and embrace your disability?

This isn’t quite the same discussion “That Crazy Cripple Chick” is having, but what she’s writing about here is closely related, and it is a great starting point for someone who, for whatever reason, can’t seem to view assistive devices with anything but sadness, disappointment, or fear.