Consequences and Compassion

I think that sometimes people don’t really understand the concept of how far reaching things that may seem harmless or funny to them can be for people with disabilities. I don’t think that means there’s always ill intent or that people mean to be cruel, I think it just doesn’t always occur to people. Here are some of the big ones in my book:

  • When you park in a handicapped stall and don’t need one, not only are you depriving people of something they need, you’re also setting them up to be questioned by others in the future. People with mobility issues but no mobility aids have to deal with constantly having the legitimacy of their disability questioned because other people have abused use of the parking stalls in the past.
  • When you think it’s funny or harmless to use a wheelchair at Disneyland or other amusement park when you don’t have a disability, you force the system to get so drastically changed that people who actually have disabilities now have to constantly justify themselves when they go to the park and sometimes can’t even get the assistance the need.
  • When you think it’s no big deal to just get a doctor’s note or buy a bib online so you can make it look like your dog is a service dog so you don’t have to pay to take them or board them on an airplane, you’re forcing airlines to have to crack down on abuse, thereby forcing people who actually need service dogs to have to undergo an interrogation every time they fly if they don’t “look” disabled. Same goes for if you pre-board and don’t need it.
The bottom line is, your actions and what you say mean something and have consequences. They do for all of us. You can think it’s just no big deal and anyone who has a problem with it is too sensitive but the reality is, it is a big deal. And it isn’t playing the victim or being too uptight to be upset by what people say or do when they’re abusing the system or being inconsiderate. Your needs don’t come above anyone else’s. Making your life more convenient might make someone else’s a lot more difficult. Accessibility options are in place for a reason: because people exist who need them.
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