A few months ago, I listened to one of Vix Meldrews podcasts, She Did What, where she spoke to disability and lifestyle blogger, Sarah Alexander about disability diversity.
Three things they spoke about really shocked me and also made me question, well, a lot of things.
The first was the judgement disabled people face daily when they don’t need to use a wheelchair or powerchair. Obviously, disability comes in many forms and it’s not just that someone can’t use their legs. Some people have illnesses that mean they have good days and bad days. On good days, a disabled person might be able to walk short distances. They might be enjoying a day out with their family in Whitby and be able to get out of their chair and walk for a bit, or not walk at all.
I had no idea that disabled people felt like they couldn’t or shouldn’t do this because people will:
- Act like they’ve witnessed a miracle as this person in a chair can get up
- Judge disabled people by hinting that they don’t a chair
Behaviour like this can actually prevent disabled people from going out on the days they feel good out of fear of someone questioning them.
Sarah used an example of how one time, she was at the supermarket where she and her brother parked in the disabled bay. She walked back to the car pushing the wheelchair instead of being in it and someone questioned her using the disabled parking bay.
I just cannot get over that. I can’t imagine what it must be like to have your disability questioned. I also can’t imagine what it must be like to feel like you need to question others.
I don’t have a disability. I don’t have to deal with this. I had no idea this was something disabled people dealt with on a daily basis. It’s so easy to sit here and say ‘tell them to shut up and mind their own business, but I can see how that might be easier said than done and how it can wear down person confidence.
That’s just not right at all.
The second thing that got me thinking was a discussion about medical disability vs social disability.
You can read more about it here but in short, the medical model is that there is something wrong with the disabled person that needs to be fixed. If this is not fixed, it means they are different from everyone else.
The social model is that society causes a person disability by the way it is set up to favour those without a disability. For example, having a bank that is not wheelchair accessible. This takes away a disabled persons ability to live independently and limits the control and choice they have over their own life.
There are so many small changes that can be made to help disabled people have a better experience and help them to be able to go out on their own, from having Foldable Disability scooters to make it easier to be more mobile to a simple ramp outside a pub to enjoy the England game with friends and a beer. It actually made me feel bad that these are issues I’ve never thought about before. Because I’ve not had to.
The third thing is while there are so many disabled bloggers out there that raise awareness on their blogs and social media, the problem is that they are often followed by other disabled people. Essentially, they are preaching to the choir.
What we need is abled bodied people to also share these messages, so they can reach everyone to stop ablism.
So they can reach people like me, who had no idea these troubles that disabled people face but now want to help by using my platform to share issues around ablism and educate people. From judgement to having society stop them from having the same life choices as I have.
Now, whenever I see an issue relating to disability in my feed, I make the effort to share it rather than just scroll past it.
And you should too.