Can you believe we are halfway through March? When writing this post, I wanted to do something that was about bringing awareness and if you’ve been reading The Sitting Beauty Diaries for a while you know these days I’m a big believer in affirmations and working on your mindset. I started this post off planning to go in one direction of quotes from amazing people in the disability community that motivate me to keep going towards my dreams and I may do that, but considering Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month, I wanted to do something different and share some of my favorite quotes that challenge the perceptions of disabled life so today I’m sharing quotes about life with a disability I wish everyone would read.
My disability exists not because I use a wheelchair, but because the broader environment isn’t accessible. ~ Stella Young
I chose to put this quote first in this section because for me it serves as a reminder that there is nothing wrong with being disabled. Disability, disabled, or however you want to refer to it is not a bad word. We have made so many advancements in technology, yet society still sees people with disabilities, especially those with physical ones who look different somehow as less. Therefore although we have the ADA and subsequent laws people still don’t have access to all the places that those who are able bodied do. There are steps and broken escalators or elevators, doors with no automatic button, parking lots and sidewalk curbs that have no handicapped parking spots or dibs in the curbs to get on the sidewalk. Simple changes yes, but think about it, if good sized elevators were everywhere stairs were and they were regularly serviced, would the stairs matter? Probably not. This is a small part of the plethora of things society can change when it comes to people with disabilities and access, but the concept is the same.
“Disability is articulated as a struggle, an unnecessary burden that one must overcome to the soundtrack of a string crescendo. But disabled lives are multi-faceted – brimming with personality, pride, ambition, love, empathy, and wit.” Sinead Burke
Again disability is not a bad word and it doesn’t mean the people who have them don’t have plans, hopes, dreams for their own lives, but it has been portrayed that way. It seems as if the word disability is uttered or someone uses a mobility aid, there is nothing more to this person than their disabled identity. Living with a disability is a huge part of your life, all of us who live with them know that, but we don’t want to be known as the disabled girl, there is more to our stories than that. There is more to an able-bodied person than one thing that they do or one aspect of their lives so why isn’t it the same for us?
Disability is as visual as race. If a wheelchair user can’t play Beyonce, then Beyonce can’t play a wheelchair user. Maysoon Zayid
One of the biggest issues living with a disability is how people view it and the way they view disability is negative as Sinead said, but a large part of that is due to the way it is portrayed in the media. I’m in my 20’s and I recall a handful of times where a character for a show or movie had a disability and the actor was actually disabled and even less cases where a disability isn’t mentioned, but the actor is disabled. This aspect has changed so much in the last decade, but it is still so rare to see an actor or actress with a disability, specifically a physical one playing a supporting or lead role whether the character is specifically disabled or not. This matters, according to wethe15.org. There are 1.2 million people with disabilities in this world, we deserve to see ourselves represented in various industries, but especially entertainment. This industry has an amazing platform and hiring people with disabilities whether characters are disabled or not is a great way to start conversations, dispel stereotypes, and accurately portray life with a disability if a character is disabled.
“I have a Disability yes that’s true, but all that really means is I may have to take a slightly different path than you.” Robert M. Hensel
At times it seems as if people don’t know how to react when they realize that someone has a disability. As a person with a disability, you unfortunately get used to people asking inappropriate questions such as how did you end up in that chair? My answer usually is I have a disability and I leave it at that. I love this Robert Hensel quote because it’s about showing people that although I have a disability, it doesn’t mean I can’t get stuff done, I just have to go about it differently because I’m living in a world not designed for me. A disability takes a lot from you, but it also makes you really creative when you want to get something done,
Society, in so many different aspects, portrays people with disabilities as people whose whole life is about the disability and that’s just not the case. The majority of people don’t know how to react when the see and/or learn someone has a disability, but it is really time for that to change starting with how people with disabilities are depicted in various industries and opening a dialogue. The simple fact is you really don’t need to treat us any differently than anyone else.
There are dozens upon dozens of quotes about life with a disability I could share from influential figures in the disabled community. I chose these quotes by some amazing disability activists because they challenge the misconceptions sharing what living with disability in this world really means. People with disabilities are just that, people. I hope that in reading this post your view of what disability is, is challenged and you’re inspired to learn more and become an ally to those of us in the disabled community.
Happy Pie Day to all the Math and Pie lovers out there. Do you have any quotes about life with a disability you think I should have added to this blog post? Let me know in the comments.