Does disability exist?
Would a world without disability be diminished?
I've been having some discussions recently, on line and in person, about these issues. I've heard people say things like 'in this situation disability just disappeared' or 'it was like disability just wasn't there.' And they say this in excited tones - like some victory has happened.
Too and also with enthusiasm, I'm told that in a world that is fully accessible, disability will cease to exist.
And in my heart I wonder.
"Why does anyone want a world without disability?"
"Why do people keep telling me that disability disappeared is a goal?"
I don't want the world that they are talking about. I don't want my identity as a man with a disability, I don't want my history as a member of the disability community, I don't want ME and my experiences ... erased, eradicated or eliminated. Why don't they understand that what they say, in excitement, is what scares me? Deep down inside, scares me.
I imagine that if women were all in a woman positive space where all attitudinal barriers to gender were eliminated - they wouldn't want it said that in that situation that 'gender disappeared.' I really don't. The women I know identify strongly with their gender, see their gender as a positive aspect of who they are, couldn't imagine themselves genderless. In fact they would see, I believe, that the idea of ripping their gender from them as an act of violence that supports the idea that their gender is a 'bad thing' that can be 'experienced away.'
I don't see my identity as a disabled person as a bad thing.
I don't wish it away.
I am what I am and what I am is on wheels.
Parent says: You know when it comes to loving, he doesn't have a disability at all.
Child hears: Parents admire me only when they can morph me into an able person.
Media says: It's her talent that defines her, not her disability.
Disabled person hears: I am valued for what I do, but not for who I am.
Staff says: Don't let anyone tell you that you've got a disability.
Disabled person hears: Don't admit to your disability, it's a bad thing.
Messages, messages, messages.
I don't want you to see me 'beyond my disability' I want you to see me AND my disability as one whole.
I don't want you to 'focus on my ability' I want you to focus on the person I am and be informed by my experience as a disabled person.
I don't want to lose my identify as a person with a disability and I don't like it when you talk like the 'elimination' of the disability experience is a GOOD THING.
I believe I have a purpose.
My purpose in informed by my disability.
Don't rob me of me ... and then expect me to thank you for it.
Sometimes those who hate disability most use language of acceptance to further the cause of rejection.