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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