May 1st - Blogging against disphobia (disablism) day
Please participate through your comments, also drop by Diary of a Goldfish (www.blobolobolob.blogspot.com) to see the list of blogs participating and visit other disability blogs and let them know what you think, encourage dialogue - celebrate difference, diversity and disability.
My Blog to Note the Day:
Suddenly I understood exactly what she meant.
I had gone grocery shopping with friends at our local A and P and when it came time to check out there were three lines open. The till that is accessible wasn't one of them. This meant that I had to give money to my friends and then roll around and meet them on the other side because the aisleway was too narrow. I stopped at customer service and asked to speak to the store manager. He came, huffing, puffing and carrying boxes, up to the counter. The clerk indicated to him that I wanted to speak to him.
My point was simple. If they were only going to have one till open, it should be the accessible one. It isn't a hardship to the store, to their employees, to anyone. It's not a 'special' adaption they have to make for me. It's just thoughtful. And appropriate. And the right thing to do.
He nodded. Vacantly. Muttered something about me 'having a point'.
I let it go. He said the right things. I just knew he didn't care. Wouldn't do anything about it.
So I understood what she had to say.
It was at the self advocate conference last week that I met her. She came up to the podium where I was seated during the morning break. She was short, dark-haired and determined. In the morning session people had called out various things that had made them feel ... glad, sad, mad and scared. It was just a quick exercise to affirm our right to feelings and our right to express how we feel.
She must have put her hand up, I must have missed it. No surprise, it was a huge room and she was a tiny woman.
As I was on a stage, she peered up at me and said, "I have something to say." I smiled and bid her go ahead. I was curious as to what had brought this woman with Down Syndrome up to speak to me. "What makes me happy," she said, brushing away tears. Suddenly she was crying and had to stop. I was confused. She was going to talk about something happy, but tears were falling.
After a minute or two, she pulled herself together.
"What makes me happy, is when people listen to me. Not just nod their heads, but listen to me." And she was crying again.
"They don't listen much, do they?" I said.
"No, they don't," she said, "But when they do it makes me really happy."
I asked her if she would like to come up and do a roll play in the second part of the morning workshop and she said, shyly, that she was a little afraid to be in front of everyone. I suggested she try and instead of looking at the crowd, all three hundred of them, she could just look at me. She agreed to try.
She came up and did a role play about saying 'no' to a bus driver who tried to grab her. When done the crowd cheered her. She wasn't so small anymore. As she turned to leave she said, "They listened."
I winked at her and she broke into laughter.
"They don't listen to us much do they," I said in my heart - telegraphing my sentiment to her across the miles, she in Missouri, me in Ontario. Somehow it doesn't matter if she heard me, it only matters that she understands. "They don't listen to us much ..."
But they will.
One day they will.
Because we've had the dream.
One day, together, we'll have the power.