Thursday, December 03, 2015

A Party of One? International Day of Disabled Persons

(Photo Description: Disability Access Symbol in white on a blue background shaped like an arrow pointing up.)
Yesterday I was in a place where a lot of people with disabilities were. There were power chairs and scooters, there were manual chairs and walkers, there were white canes and crooked canes, there were people speaking in several languages - including sign language. I came through the accessible doors to find a lobby full of people who moved differently through the world.

I do not find that there is an automatic camaraderie when people with disabilities find themselves together in public spaces. There are some who immediately light up at the realization they aren't alone, there are others who seem embarrassed to be around others with similar disabilities. But even with that ... even with that ... there is a remarkable ability for us all to share space together without getting in each other's way. There is an amazing willingness to move an inch forward or backward to accommodate someone else's need to get through a passage way.

I did not realize I was in this place, with these people, on the eve of the International Day of Disabled Persons, as I was focused on the reason that I was there, the service I was needing, the expert who I was scheduled to meet. So, I made may way through those that walked and those that rolled, those with three legs and those with six, those who tapped their way by objects and those that were led by dogs, I signed "Hello," and "Excuse me," as I passed by a woman in quick conversation with her friend. I made my way by these people, in this place who's goal and mission is to provide service to those of us who exist a little differently in the world.

And.

There was nothing.

No banner hung proclaiming the day.

No slogans about rights, or access, or disability were up on the walls.

No mention of it was made by anyone.

At all.

I got up to Google this morning and Google has no graphic. About anything. It seems they couldn't find anything remarkable about today. Nothing to celebrate. Nothing of note.

But I am celebrating it here. On my blog and in my life. It's an important day on my emotional calender. I need these days. Days that remind me to stop and ponder. Days that remind me that I am part of something much bigger - a community of people, of voices, who have fought bloody but bloodless battles against attitudes and barriers. Those who lived and died locked away and those who flung open the doors.

I am here.

And I am not a party of one ... because

... we are here.

And that's reason enough to celebrate.

5 comments:

Mole Chapman said...

I.m here! Let's party !

Self Advocacy Federation said...

The Self Advocacy Federation celebrates the day w/ the release of our newest film!
http://youtu.be/6FNR2RYgaBw

Anonymous said...

I only even HEARD it was that "special day" from someone on FB. I'm proud to say I spent a substantial portion of it listening to your teachings on "The Ethics Of Touch" made in 2000 or 2001 and STILL TOTALLY CURRENT in 2015!!! You are NOT alone, Dave...you're teaching us to be proud of ourselves and celebrate EVERY day as a "day of disabled persons" who are valued participants in our everyday lives. Hope you don't get discouraged! #DH4L

Anonymous said...

High five! Thanks for posting, and for including those who need an 'assistive device' who is four legged and furry! :)

--Littlewolf

clairesmum said...

that sense of connection and belonging is so incredibly comforting and spiritual....
it doesn't always happen when and where we expect, making it all the more wonderful when it does.
the whole idea of disability and identity pride is making more sense to me, Dave...thanks!!