No, “disability” is not a bad word.
No, having a disability is not shameful.
No, disability does not mean being “less than”.
No, disability does NOT mean a complete inability to do things. It only means, needing to do things differently from everyone else.
No, it does not mean that your life loses value. Disabled lives are LIVES WORTH LIVING.
Claiming the disability label for yourself or for your children and other loved ones is NOT a form of “giving up”. It doesn’t mean that you stop working toward greater autonomy, improved abilities, integration into society, or a more fulfilled life. It just means, acknowledging that you may need to do things differently. Sometimes accepting a disability can be an important step toward achieving your life goals. You can’t imagine away limitations, but you can imagine how to work around them.
Claiming the disability label can be an act of pride. Many disabled warriors have fought for everything from the right to ride public transportation, to attend school, to have the same access to information and communication as everyone else, and more. Even if you’re not disabled, then you have still benefited from our advocacy. Every curb cut you’ve ever used for your baby stroller, every line of captions that enables you to understand television in a noisy bar, and many more things are there because we fought for them.
If you’re worried about “appropriating” the term from people who need it? If you are worried that your difficulties are too “minor” to “count”? If you think the best way to show respect for disabled people is to disclaim the label? Please relax. Most of us want MORE people, not fewer, to feel entitled to identify with the word “disability”. Even people who experience different degrees of difficulty may still share a common need for accessible environments and respect for our value as human beings. You’re not taking anything away from us by claiming the identity. On the contrary: you are identifying common ground that lets us work together toward common goals.
If you still believe disability isn’t an accurate descriptor for you? Or if you need to think about it more first? You have a right to define your own identity. You do you.
But please, have the courtesy to disclaim the label in a way that doesn’t imply that being a person with talents, autonomy, and value as a human being is somehow a contradiction to being also a person with disabilities.
And, please, learn what the term means before explaining why it doesn’t fit. If you say you’re not disabled because there are so many things you can do, then you haven’t understood what it means. If you say you’re not disabled because you “only need to do things differently,” then you have just given the definition for what “disability” means. Wouldn’t it feel silly to learn that your explanation for disclaiming the label instead explains why you have a right to claim it after all?
Written by Mia Mingus, at her blog “Leaving Evidence”
Photo of my wheelchair in a dark room, silhouetted against a doorway, with a large shirt outlined in lights hanging against a dark wall.
“Forced Intimacy” is a term I have been using for years to refer to the common, daily experience of disabled people being expected to share personal parts of ourselves to survive in an ableist world. This often takes the form of being expected to share (very) personal information with able bodied people to get basic access, but it also includes forced physical intimacy, especially for those of us who need physical help that often requires touching of our bodies. Forced intimacy can also include the ways that disabled people have to build and sustain emotional intimacy and relationships with someone in order to get access—to get safe, appropriate and good access.
I have experienced forced intimacy my entire life as a disabled child, youth and adult…
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By blogger “Crippled Scholar”
Image Description: Canadian Flag. A red maple leaf on a white background with red vertical stripes at either end.
Today I came across two conflicting news articles, one of them Canadian, the other American. They both deal with the Canadian immigration system but they come to vastly different conclusions. The American article which appeared in the New York Times entitled Canada’s Ruthlessly Smart Immigration Policy, glorifies the Canadian by the numbers immigration system. Conversely, a Global News report looked at Canadian grown advocacy against that same immigration system. Their primary concern, the fact that the system is discriminatory against disabled people.
I have written previously about how the Canadian immigration system actively discriminates against disabled people and what this means for the status of disabled people within Canada and abroad. When I first wrote that article, it garnered very little attention but since the election of Donald Trump as…
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Guest post by author Lisa Bunker at the blog LGBTQ Reads
Today on the site, we welcome Lisa Bunker, author of the just-released-yesterday Felix Yz! This Middle Grade debut features a gay protagonist, several other characters under the LGBTQ+ umbrella, and a whole lot more. Here’s the info:
When Felix Yz was three years old, a hyperintelligent fourth-dimensional being became fused inside him after one of his father’s science experiments went terribly wrong. The creature is friendly, but Felix—now thirteen—won’t be able to grow to adulthood while they’re still melded together. So a risky Procedure is planned to separate them . . . but it may end up killing them both instead.
This book is Felix’s secret blog, a chronicle of the days leading up to the Procedure. Some days it’s business as usual—time with his close-knit family, run-ins with a bully at school, anxiety about his crush. But life becomes more out of the ordinary with the arrival of…
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By Mel Baggs
[I wrote this in response to a Dave Hingsburger post. Andrea Shettle asked me to post it here. Summary of my very long response: Most people don’t have the foggiest clue what’s bad about institutions. What’s bad is something you pretty much never hear about, which is the violence it does to people’s insides at a very deep level. And that can’t be stopped by just removing the things that LOOK bad and throwing a layer of glamour on top.]
Please, please, please everyone who talks about this in the past tense — STOP. This is still going on. Everywhere.
I can’t even explain what it feels like to read things like this. Because I think too many people get the wrong kind of idea.
They will think that this is over. It’s not.
They will think that the awfulness and cruelty of an institution is measured by the size…
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A recent Hiram College (Ohio) study reveals that disability simulations often result in feelings of fear, apprehension and pity toward those with disabilities.
[Comment from me — we knew this already from earlier, somewhat similar research, but here is new corroborating evidence. The sad thing is that even people with disabilities ourselves have sometimes encouraged the use of role-playing disability stimulations on the misguided idea that these would be helpful. Including me, when I was growing up. And some disabled adults in more recent years as well. I hope later research will help us find better alternatives, because I think one reason why people keep using disability simulation role plays is because they don’t know anything else that might be more effective.]