The Two-Thirds Club

I was just going to dig up an older blog post for the hop this week. I mean, God knows I have a pile of posts about disability and the influence of it on my world, in the world, and so forth.

But I realized I haven’t actually written anything about how my connection with disability changes how I see the world, and I also realized that I do want to write about that.

They say that two thirds of the planet has a disability or a connection to disability. Two-thirds. Yeah, that’s a lot of people. But when you think about it, it actually makes sense. Non visible disabilities, learning disabilities, disabilities acquired through accidents, disease. They say too, that disability is the only minority group that anyone can join at any time. New people are added to this collective daily, by the minute, second.

The combination of the sheer numbers of people with disabilities, coupled with the numbers of those who have a connection with disability by dint of someone close to them having a disability, makes people approachable to me.

Let me explain that a little bit.

I used to be nervous about disability and nervous about asking for accommodation. I would sit things out without asking people to look at me or enunciate, I’d try and find ways to stay awake before I asked for different lighting or the wherewithal to play music (- both accommodations for my brain injury). I would tiptoe around people and disability-related situations.

But I don’t do that anymore, reason being that (besides accommodation being my right under the ADA) when I look at someone now, I think, “you are probably one of the two thirds”. I think, “either you are dyslexic, or you have a brother, sister, cousin, uncle who has Down syndrome or your mama is bi-polar, but you probably have something going”.

When I see people now and when I approach people with my own request for accommodation or if I think Moxie needs an introduction, I do it with the perspective that we are part of the two-thirds. And that the people who we are interacting with are also part of the two-thirds, whether or not they know it.

I approach disability from the perspective of normalcy, that this isn’t something waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay out there, all “special” and such; rather it’s extremely common, it’s extraordinarily common, it’s beans and rice in Central America, common.

We’re members of the Two-Thirds Club

Now, right on the heels of that is another lens that disability has placed over the world for me and that is one of opportunity.

You see, I look at our history of making inventions through something connected to disability – the telephone, the typewriter, curb cuts, all of those came through disability. I think of all the interesting disabilities there are out there, ways of thinking, speaking, walking, rolling, hearing, seeing, feeling, communicating – this is diversity at its finest!

Disability represents a tremendous diversity, and within that also lies a tremendous opportunity to experience the world from a different point of view. There is also tremendous opportunity to invent things that are purportedly for something disability-related, an accommodation, but which will actually benefit everyone.

I used to be a teacher and I used to also work in Human Resource Management. Separate careers, different times, but with similar outcomes. When I needed to make a tweak in a lesson or create a space for learning for a student because of a disability – or when I needed to work with an accommodation in the workplace – 9 times out of the 10, that accommodation was either just common sense and should have been done already or it was something that was a great idea and helped more than just the person who it was implemented for.

So I see disability as an opportunity.

What I do not see disability as: I do not see disability as a pitiful thing, I don’t see it as something to be overcome, I don’t see us disabled as “broken”, I don’t see people with disabilities as an inspiration in and of themselves (- let’s just judge people by their actions and not by their legs, ears or whatever, please). I don’t see disability as this all-encompassing “special”, I don’t see it as something that needs to be fixed.

I think we are as we should be.

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Meriah

is a deaf blogger, global nomad, tech-junkie, cat-lover, Trekkie, Celto-Teutonic-peasant-handed mom of 3 (one with Down syndrome and one gifted 2E).

She likes her coffee black and hot.


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2 Comments

  • This is a thread I see that is a ubiquitous bit of deaf culture. Someday, I will join the club, but presently I am medically considered moderate to severe. I am joining this culture later in life. (62) but it is tough for late in life or newly deafened people to stay connected to the broader world.

    I am not yet deaf. I haven’t completely lost my ability to interact with “typical” people. Hearing have their reasons. They have to repeat things and it slows the flow of the conversation. The third time I ask for a repeat, most everyone just says, “Nevermind, it wasn’t important.”

    Deaf from birth or early age means that their culture can easily be offended because I don’t know all the ins and outs of the culture. Deaf are blunt. (Which is ok, it is WAY better than being two-faced.). They say really assertively, I can’t be friends with you it takes you people too long to learn to sign. It is agonizingly slow to try and talk with you.

    So what group can I get together with? The rural nature of things where I live means that the only interpreter (CODP) interprets at church. And their church if fine, I have nothing against them, but the church has very different values and beliefs. WAY different. My church said they are going to put in an assisted listening adaptation. They said that a year ago.

    I have about 5-6 people who will face me when they talk, and are somewhat willing to repeat things. So outside of team training, there are these very few that can put up with me. My world is shrinking. The deaf are impatient and don’t want to be bothered by me. The hearing, are impatient and don’t want to be bothered by me. My solution is to be my own best friend and do what I want when I want. Fortunately I don’t often get impatient with myself, and I go and do lots of things.

    I have taken ASL classes (2) and can probably talk at the level of a first grader. It is humbling. I think there is a lot of technology out there, but I haven’t figured out what the choices are and how it works. I went to a meeting last week that used CART. It was awesome!

    So I have been in the 2/3 club since birth, but for a variety of different diagnoses. Whatever culture is your primary group that you identify with, you don’t want me to identify with you. Effort is required. I feel like I am Eleanor Rigby. I don’t feel pity, what I do feel is anger. I am angry that deaf/hearing cultures are not open to new members of the 2/3 club. I will just have to carve my own niche and be happy in that niche. It is a LOT nicer with a Service Dog. I will always feel tremendous appreciation to CCI for allowing me to have two weeks of in-between world, and training me to have a companion that is patient and actually does know some signs! She is a HUGE blessing to a member of the 2/3 club, but doesn’t hold it against me being hearing or non-hearing.

    My next adventure, I will have company with me.but she just has a wet nose and really doesn’t care which part of the communities will accept her. She is way too busy getting right into people’s faces and using her eyebrows to say “I love you; I know you love me too. I may have only met you 10 seconds ago, but I can tell, you love me. I am sure of it.”

    I had a deaf great Aunt that died in the insane asylum. My bet is that she was seriously depressed and isolated in a hearing world that wouldn’t learn her language. Evidentially she became so inconvenient they wanted to stuff her somewhere and the insane asylum was the closest fit. She only lived there two years. I imagine her world shrank to be very small, and probably there was no hope of her returning to her “loved ones.” A virus or bacteria gave her a shove into the next life. Personally, I always thought she died of loneliness, hopeless about ever getting out, and just having different needs. Just like me, I am betting not anyone learned more than a few signs. She went in to the asylum around 1930.

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