For this weeks post I am going to talk about ‘Disability Extremism’ or ‘Disability Chic’ as it might be known. If you are unaware of what this is, simply put it is the idea that people are being loud and proud about their disabilities.
Now, you’re probably wondering ‘whats wrong with that?’
Well, what if I told you there are a number of people out there who believe ‘being loud and proud about your disability’ is a negative thing?
That you shouldn’t be proud of your disability, that disabled people are less than everyone else?
Believe me that this has been a hot topic on Twitter this week.
There is the idea amongst some people that having a disability is something to be ashamed of. That disabled people should be hidden away and not be allowed into general society. That we take up too much room, we take up too much effort, we take up too much in the way of valuable resources.
If you do not believe me then consider this, how many disabled people have died due to their benefits being stopped? That they are deemed ‘fit to work’ by the DWP? How about the whole argument around changing spaces? That they take up too much room? That organisations don’t want to pay to have an accessible space for a carer to be able to change their disabled child meaning they have no choice but to lay their loved one down on a filthy public bathroom floor and change them? Would you change your baby on a toilet floor? Or maybe that a staggering number of blind and visually impaired people are not in employment because companies don’t know how to support them? I could absolutely go on making a list here.
My argument, along with other disabled people, is that we should not feel ashamed of our disabilities. We shouldn’t have to not be allowed to feel good about ourselves. If you as a none disabled person feel uncomfortable around a person with a disability that is your problem, not ours. You need to ask yourself why you are uncomfortable. You should not tell us ‘oh I don’t feel comfortable using the word disability- you should say differently abled’ why? Why should I change how I describe myself? I am disabled!
I am disabled! I am disabled! I am disabled! I am disabled! I am disabled! I am disabled! I am disabled! I am disabled! I am disabled! I am disabled! I am disabled! I am disabled! I am disabled! I am disabled! I am disabled! I am disabled! I am disabled! I am disabled! I am disabled! I am disabled! I am disabled!
The world is geared up towards the abled, because they are the majority. Which is some ways makes sense. However on a human level, it does not. This needs to change. We will not sit back any longer.
Now people are talking openly about being disabled and using # on Twitter to create environments and communities where we can feel empowered, we are being targeted. Why? Is it because when people demand change it means other people have to be willing make changes to what they know and are comfortable with. They are having to accommodate and make room for people who before were not catered to. I am not saying I expect change over night. I recognise that doesn’t happen. But what I am saying is, we demand to see change and we want to know how change will occur.
Part of the change we want to see is a change in unconscious bias towards disabled people. We want people to stop judging those of us who ask for a seat on train who ‘don’t look disabled’. We want people to stop staring when we get out of cars when we’ve parked in a disabled bay and are putting our blue badges in the windows. We want you to stop rushing us at the check out. We want you to talk to us like we are human beings and not like we are something for you to stare at on the street.
People like Sam Renke have spoken out about this on ITV. Sam has spoken about how online abuse is very common. That more needs to be done to tackle hate speech towards disabled people. I agree. We deserve to be safe, to be allowed to feel un threatened. Words hurt, behaviours hurt. Unconscious bias- hurts. We need to encourage people to understand that their behaviours are harmful towards the most vulnerable in our society. Sam talked about how we need to have more accountability and I agree. Please watch her video here.
I am visually impaired, have Dyspraxia and a curved spine. I am often in pain. If you would like to know more about how you can support visually impaired people in work, please reach out. I will advise you how best I can. I will also leave a list of charities below who you can contact and discuss any concerns you have.
We are not demanding anything big and Earth shattering. We just want to be respected and treated like humans. Like you.
I am placing these links below as sites you may find useful. I am in no way affiliated to them.
See Ability https://www.seeability.org/
CVI Society https://cvisociety.org.uk/
Guide Dogs https://www.guidedogs.org.uk
Scoliosis Association UK https://www.sauk.org.uk
Equally Together http://equalitytogether.org.uk