I was recently asked what are the 10 things, I wish people knew about disability. Here they are in no particular order. To readers, some of these will appear common sense, however, experiences I have had demonstrate there are still gaps in awareness. Please note, these are not my only 10, but were the first 10 I came up with. I will add to these at another time.
1. Disability is a social construct — society is the disabler.
2. Having a disability does not define a person or dictate what their life will be like, society that does that.
3. We can work.
4. We do not live our lives to inspire, there are motivational/inspirational speakers out there. We only appear inspiring because society has misled people on what to expect of people with disabilities. Making a phone call, wheeling oneself or putting money in a vending machine does not make a person inspirational.
5. We can have partners.
6. Being a wheelchair user does not automatically make a person suitable to be a receptionist or secretary,. (Power to you if you are a receptionist or secretary and that’s what you want to be!)
7. People can live independent lives/be homeowners (with the right support)
8. You might not see a person with a disability somewhere not because they don’t want to be there. They might have an invisible disability, or there are issues making the event/place/ inaccessible in more ways than you realise.
9. Having a disability does not mean we automatically understand the experiences of sexism, racism and all the other ‘isms”,
10. Ableism. The previous 9 things are all a result of ableism, unintentional, internalised ableism which society has led people to believe is the natural way of things. By understanding ableism, we begin to understand the things that we thought we knew, are in fact a result of the way society has framed disability.