Two men in suits, looking aghast at the crowd assembing before them, says one to the other, "What on earth is going on?" This moment will happen often over the next couple of days here in Nashville at Tennessee's Megaconference on disability. I like those moments. I like the idea that the sheer coincidence of two business type guys ending up in a hotel hosting a conference where the subject is disabilities and those with disabilities are in attendance brings together unlikely people. I do. No PSA or Education Campaign will ever take the place of just one experience of riding the elevator with someone you thought different.
This is a conference I'm not well known at. I can ride through in my chair in anonymity - without being recognized. Many assume I'm a self advocate attendee not an invited speaker. But that's OK too, you can learn something from rolling a mile in anothers shoes (shut up, let it work). What struck me this time was overheard conversations and the realization that came from that. We have a jargon. Words tumbled out of mouths, words like ...
and then there are the self's
I know all these words. I know the context they are used in. But for the first time I realized how we've managed, over the years, to get rid of jargon and concentrate on what we understand. The Self Advocate Movement has pushed for plain lanaguage, and from what I heard here yesterday, they've got it. I heard none of the jargon of the past ... didn't hear DRO or even DRI, does anyone even remember 'response cost'. Those were the days where technicians determined day to day life and defined the issues of the conference. But those were the days when people with disabilities didn't attended the conferences about them. Hell, we didn't let parents attend.
I rolled through a community with it's own language, it's own way of seeing the world. We use a language of inclusivity and gentleness. Now when our walk matches our talk, we're going to have it made in the shade.
By the by, I saw one of those business guys later, standing in line at the desk and chatting, showing only slight discomfort, with a guy in a wheelchair. They were laughing. What's the world we'd use for that ... inclusion ... well I think the word better suited is ... action.