Friday, May 2, 2008

Blogging Against Disablism-a day late!

Well, Blogging Against Disablism Day was yesterday, and I'm very excited because this year I actually have a blog to post on! However, yesterday I was unable to post due to massive amounts of homework. So I'm posting today.

OK, first off, if you have no idea what Blogging Against Disablism Day is all about, click on
this link to go to the mastermind behind all this, Diary of A Goldfish. I think she's a genius for coming up and organizing this whole thing. *bows down to Diary of A Goldfish*

Blogging Against Disablism Day, May 1st 2008

OK, now for the actual post. I feel like I talk about disablism in some form in all of my posts, so I think I'm just going to analyze what disablism means to me, for something a little different.

Disablism is discrimination against disabled people. It's also called ableism and a bunch of different names. There are countless obvious examples of disablism that I could point out to you right now, for instance, lack of access at a store or other public place. But I also feel there are infinitely many subtle examples of disablism. Disablism, to me, is anything-and I do mean everything-that makes a disabled person feel inferior to able-bodied people. This includes disablist language like "retard", patronizing smiles or comments, or an accessible entrance to a public place that is in the back or some other out-of-the-way place. It's the stares we get when we're out on the street. It's feeling like you're invisible, or that you have to fight to make yourself and your needs known. I could spend a whole post talking about examples of disablism I've encountered in my school, but for now I'll just point out a few.

The front entrance to my school is a set of steps. If you are a wheelchair user or someone who has mobility problems and cannot go up or down the stairs, you HAVE to go around to the back, where there is a big sign that says "ACCESSIBLE ENTRANCE". (The sign is a relatively new addition. I couldn't decide whether I liked it or not.) That is the only accessible entrance into my school. I feel this is a subtle form of disablism because it makes disabled people feel like second class citizens. Why couldn't they take out part of the steps and put in a ramp in the front? That way, we'd all feel equal. We didn't stand for separate entrances for blacks, did we? So why are we standing for separate entrances for disabled people? And many times I have gone to an evening event with a friend at my school only to find that the accessible entrance is LOCKED. I can do steps fine, but my friend-who is a wheelchair user-cannot. So if I get there before her, I have to beg and cajole and plead with the custodians to open the accessible entrance so she can actually GET INSIDE her own school! And if she gets there before me (which, thank God, has never happened), she's screwed until I get there! And that's not good if it's pouring out like it was the last time. It's ridiculous!

Other examples of disablism in my school: If you need to use the elevator, you need to get a key from the nurse, who makes you pay ten bucks for the key. I find this a little strange: surely able-bodied students don't have to pay to go up the stairs? (And I don't have to tell you how much money I've spent on replacement keys after I've lost mine. I think this is about my fifth key in nearly four years. Let's hope I don't lose this one.) And I won't go into the special education system, because once I get going on that, there's absolutely no stopping me.

I also hate it when people use disablist language. A particular pet peeve of mine is when people use the word "retarded", as in "You're such a retard!" or "That's so retarded!" I started a campaign years ago about not using that word, and I have quite a few participants. The one time I dared to criticize a couple of girls at my lunch table (this was back when I actually had a lunch period) for using that word, they all looked at me like I was some sort of cockroach. I'm used to that look by now. I get it a lot at school.

Oh yeah, and another thing. I HATE IT WHEN PEOPLE TRY AND HELP ME! I don't know if that particularly qualifies as disablism, but it's certainly annoying. I am a VERY independent person, and if I need help, I will ASK for it! When people try and help me, it just makes it longer and harder, because I have a specific way I do things in order to make it the most efficient process possible. If people screw up my routine, it takes ten times as long. I feel awkward telling them not to help, because I know it's nice of them to offer, but I can do it myself, people. And if people try and help me up when I fall, forget about it! I'll be going right back down on the floor then. And don't you even think about asking me stupid questions about my crutch. I can stick it right up your butt if you're not careful.

OK, I'll stop rambling now and get on with the homework. I'll let you know if I ever emerge from the piles of work. I'm going to post either later or over the weekend with an analysis of my favorite BADD posts, because I see a lot of other people are doing it. Happy Blogging Against Disablism Day! (even though it's not BADD anymore)


Anonymous said...

Never, ever feel bad about refusing help. Yes, it is nice of people to offer, but if they take it personally when you politely refuse their help, then they're not being nice at all.

Real help is about the person being offered help, not the person offering the help. It is perfectly reasonable to expect other people to understand this and to accept your refusals graciously.

BTW, I don't use a wheelchair most of the time in public, but I absolutely hate the number of places where the wheelchair accessible entrance is in the back, too. Hate it. Also hate elevators not simply being available to everyone.

Anonymous said...

I've always though architects should have to spend a month getting around in a wheelchair before getting their licenses. It might make things a bit more logical when it comes to ramp inclusion, etc. We once wheeled my brother to the top of a ramp only to find a huge set of stairs at the top. I mean, seriously.

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