How many of you have come across someone who says something that irritates you? How many of you are disabled and it has been an able bodied person who has said something that irritates you? I am guessing many of you have had one or two of these experiences. It isn't a nice experience in either situation but there is a bigger problem with what some able bodied people say to disabled people because this shows a small glimpse of what they believe to be true about disability. The media doesn't help this perception, because their opinion is listened to whether it is right or wrong.
I specify adults as my subject, because in theory they should know better. Children will often ask inquisitive questions about why I am in a wheelchair and will really mean what they say when they ask "Why don't your legs work properly?" rather than "what happened to you?" followed by sympathetic looks of I'm sorry to hear that. I don't want your sympathy I just want to be liked and respected like everyone else I come into contact as I am part of society and as such should be treated in this way.
Other irritating things people have said to me on more than one occasion, is things like "At least you don't have to look for a chair to sit in" or when drinking and said to me just this weekend "At least you wont fall over,".
I always feel like saying "What do you think will happen when I get out of my chair?" or "Do I stay in my chair all day and night? Do you really think I want to stay in my wheelchair", I would like to get up and stand but have accepted that this will not happen. I don't mind so much that it wont happen, just don't need someone bringing attention to it at every opportunity. I am sure able bodied people make these comments because they are unfamiliar with the situation they have found themselves in, but if you aren't sure how to treat someone just treat them how you would like to be treated yourself. If everyone does this then they wont go far wrong.
Oh and apparently I am too young and beautiful to be disabled, which was said to me as someone jumped in the disabled space in front of me because they thought I didn't need the space, is it only old people who need blue badges? If so how come it is estimated that there are 400 million disabled people in the developing world? Contrary to popular belief in the media disabled people don't chose to be disabled and there is not wide spread abuse of disability benefits.
The blue badge on the other hand, there is abuse and I do feel that something needs to be done to prevent this abuse happening. This will only help as long as those who generally require the use of a blue badge don't suffer as a result. There are many a time when I have needed to park somewhere and have ended up parking miles away from my location just so that I can get in and out of the car with enough space for my wheelchair, yet I see people running out of the car and into the building (so they need a blue badge then)! I wouldn't wish the struggle of disability on anyone but I wait to see how these people cope if they really did become very disabled and relied on the space being there. If I can't park in a space big enough I can't go to work, or go out and spend the money that I have earned at work so I am not able to put back into society.
If I am not able to do this I will be forced to claim benefits which I would rather not do, but I understand why so many disabled people feel that this is there only choice because it is not made easy for them to earn their own money, for the reasons already mentioned but also through the lack of understanding of disabled peoples abilities rather than their disabilities.
Disabled people find it harder to get work because of lack of understanding and the work that they get is often paid poorly and only a few hours. The other problem thanks to this government is that the easiest place for disabled people to find work is in the NHS and unfortunately if the government has their way there wont be such a health service for disabled people to be employed by. I do not work for the NHS directly but I work for a charity that is partially funded by the service and so if this money stopped so would my job, unfortunately I am not convinced I would find a job that easily and it is only likely to get worse, being part of a marginalised society is not an encouraging prospect for me and so many other disabled people.
The above mentioned will only change with time, but this government is making it hard for positive change to happen. Disabled people need to show themselves in a positive light and able bodied people need to be willing to listen. Last year the first Disability History Month was held which has been put in place to raise awareness and show disability in a positive light. I will be part of the planning this year, and so hopefully this can go some way to changing attitudes in the future. Disabled people are part of society and will always be so let them be part of it. For more information on Disability History month follow this link http://www.ukdisabilityhistorymonth.com/