I spent a large part of my summer thinking and learning about disability. Sounds silly right?
After all, I shouldn’t need to learn about disability since I live it—having relied on a wheelchair for the last ten years, but now I see disability differently. I better understand the societal, financial, and political realities of having a disability. Plus, I know that there is more to disability than not being able to walk. Disability includes many other deficits, be that hearing, vision, or cognition. And I realize this not only because of my graduate classes at CMU either.
In fact just the other day, fellow MS blogger Michael Gerber wrote in his blog Perspective Is Everything, about this very subject. He writes, “Am I disabled? NO. To call myself disabled would be to say that there is something wrong with me as a person. I am a fully functioning, living person who, among other things, has and lives with a disability. I lead an amazing and incredible life, filled with love, family, friendship, adventure and romance. There are plenty of able-bodied people living in this world who do not have the life I have or the ability to think, feel or communicate as I do. That is their disability. Mine is that I don’t walk so good.” While Michael definitely has given me another way to think about disability and I understand his point, I am comfortable acknowledging the truth that I have a disability.
I am unable to walk. I am disabled. Yes, truth be told, part of me is broken. I dislike admitting that but spend a few seconds with me and you’ll see it.
Yes, I am disabled.
Plain and simple, and according to Robert McRuer’s book Crip Theory, the truth is that “If we live long enough, disability is the one identity we will all inhabit.” Author Tobin Siebers adds to this writing in his book, Disability Theory: “Only fifteen percent of people with disabilities are born with their impairments. Most people become disabled over the course of their life.”
I’m not sure if those facts make you uncomfortable and that is not my intent. Really it isn’t. But the truth is that most people do not want to consider that their life’s journey will take them from ability to disability. I really only wanted to give you something to think about.
So did I? And if I did make you think, did I scare you? If so, ask yourself why?
Care to share your thoughts?