On Speaking Up

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I’ve talked about this in previous posts, but as a disabled person, you have to deal almost daily with the ignorance of others, with things not being accessible, and with people abusing things that have been put in place solely for disabled people. On top of that, when we do speak up, when things are being abused or things aren’t accessible, we’re often labelled as being “difficult” or accused of complaining too much. It puts the blame of things not being the way they should be right back on us.

I had to deal with this even in my college years. I was accused of asking for special treatment when I simply asked the Disability Services office for a first floor apartment if there was no elevator. I’ve seen the difference in the way I get treated when I report someone for parking in a handicapped spot at one of my workplaces when they didn’t have a placard. The perception becomes that you’re whiny or high maintenance.

In reality though, if people just exercised some compassion, if people didn’t abuse these things, if everything was accessible like it was supposed to be, then none of us would have to complain about anything. I think most of us don’t enjoy having to constantly bring these things to people’s attention. I know I certainly don’t. I wish people would just pull their head of their ass so we wouldn’t have to constantly police their bad behavior. I wish we were treated equally. I wish that people didn’t think the “big” stall in the bathroom with the bars was just for their convenience. That handicapped parking spots aren’t for people who need to “run in” or that people don’t need to actually use them because they’re empty a lot of the time.

But until we get to that point, we have to use our voices. We have to hold people, workplaces, colleges, and even the world accountable. Because if we never speak up, then nothing will ever change even though the responsibility for change shouldn’t fall solely on the shoulders of those us who are victimized. It shouldn’t really fall on us at all.  I hope that there comes a day when people will just think before they act. When they’ll think about how abusing things disabled people need affects them and their well-being. When everything is actually accessible. My voice could certainly use the break.

photo credit: mikeyp2000 23 Mr Noisy via photopin All rights reserved by the author

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