When Dusty and Kionna Stribel went out to eat with their 8-year-old daughter Jaydin on Saturday Oct. 10, they of course never expected someone to leave an obscene note on their car. But after what was supposed to be an enjoyable family lunch, the Stribels came out to a nasty message scrawled onto a small piece of yellow paper.
“DISABLED? NO… JUST YOUR BIG FAT ASSES,” the note on their windshield read. Dusty Stribel has muscular dystrophy and uses a motorized wheelchair, and the family had parked in a handicapped spot, reports Wave 3 News.
Instead of keeping the negative moment to themselves, Kionna Stribel posted it to Facebook with a powerful message of her own:
“They have no idea that [Dusty] already lives in constant pain, and that their hurtful words would only add to that,” Kionna Stribel wrote. “They didn’t know that the reason that he has a belly is because there are no stomach muscles left to hold everything in tight.”
PLEASE SHARE!!!To the person/persons that left this note on my car at the Olive Garden on Memorial in OKC today, I’d…
Stribel added that the family wasn’t sure how to explain this to Jaydin, who read the note before they could cover it up. So they decided to turn the whole experience into a lesson about understanding and judgement.
“I’d just like to say Thank You,” Stribel’s post reads. “Your ignorance provided a wonderful opportunity for me and my husband, who have struggled and survived and come out stronger in the last couple of years, to not only teach our daughter a valuable lesson, but provided another opportunity for us to overcome and to be thankful for the blessings that continue to come our way!”
The series hopes to inspire people with disabilities to embrace their sexuality, but also to challenge “the misconceptions that create [an] unbalance and [ensure] that better access to sexual health, sexual awareness and sex education is granted to disabled people.”
“We want to be recognized… and challenge the notion that we can’t, won’t or don’t have sex,” the campaign’s website reads. “We want the right to be sexy, to feel sexy and be seen as sexy.”
Many of the series’ subjects will also have their stories featured in what will be Enhance the UK’s first literary publication, also called “Undressing Disability.” The book chronicles the love lives of 19 disabled individuals, some anonymous, and all proceeds will go towards developing inclusive sex and relationships education resources.
Enhance the UK founder and director Jennie Williams has degenerative hearing loss, which is believed to be linked to her heart condition, Long QT syndrome. In a blog post, Williams stated that she hopes the campaign will challenge the public’s misconceptions and help other people with disabilities feel less isolated.
“Everyone has the right to have human touch, even if it is not sex as we know it,” she wrote.
“Undressing Disability” will be unveiled at a photo exhibition in a collaboration with Scope at The Gherkin in London on Thursday, Oct. 22. For more information, be sure to visit Enhance the UK‘s website.
The U.K charity Scope reports that only 5 percent of people without disabilities have been on a date with a person with a disability. So Scope decided to launch a new addition to its #EndTheAwkward campaign to raise awareness about disability and intimacy.
Scope ambassador and U.K. TV personality Alex Brooker kicked off the list by sharing his story about trying to escape after a one-night stand. “I cannot tell you the panic that goes through a person’s body when you cannot locate all of your limbs,” he said in the video below.
Amelia Cavallo is an American burlesque dancer who got involved with Extant, the U.K.’s only theater group for blind and visually impaired individuals. Extant put together a show with Cavallo and a number of other blind women called “Showgirlies,” and Cavallo told Scope, “It was a wonderful exploration of sexuality as a visibly impaired woman and it really allowed us to develop a sense of community.”
“So often you find that the stronger you are or the prettier you are then the less that people see you as blind,” she added. “So many people tell me that I don’t look disabled because I’m up on stage doing the performance. People can be really shocked that you’re sexy because you’re disabled!
English actor Mat Fraser talked about some of his dating experiences in the video below.
Fraser says that after asking someone if they wanted to have coffee at his place after a dinner date, they’d politely say yes, but when he asked if they really understood his intentions, they would frequently change their mind. He doesn’t seem bothered by it, noting that he’d rather be direct than waste his time.
“We’re hot, we’re raunchy, we’re good at it — it’s a no brainer,” he says. “At the very least it will make you feel better about yourself.”
Scope produced a short video about a woman and a blind man at a restaurant, showing how not to act when on a date. They note a number of things the woman could have done differently:
1. See the person, not just their impairment.
2. Try not to make assumptions about what someone can do, how they live or how being disabled affects them.
3. Questions, questions, questions. It’s usually OK to ask someone if they might need help (crossing the road for example). But just because someone is disabled doesn’t mean you should ask them intrusive or personal questions.
4. Accept what the person with a disability says about themselves and their impairment. Remember they know themselves better than you do.
Emily Swiatek, who has non-epileptic seizures, finds creative ways to work around her limitations.
She recalled the time she started having a seizure in the middle of sex, and her partner mistakenly thought she was having an orgasm. She’s able to laugh off the incident now, but she also noted that due to medications, the ability to have an orgasm can be a challenge.
“Being disabled encourages you to explore sex in a much more radical way,” she told Scope. “[If] you’re with a partner where you can communicate, you can still have really fun sex without an orgasm. It doesn’t have to feel that something is lacking.”
Charlie Willis is bisexual and has cerebral palsy who says being forthcoming about these two major parts of his identity gives him a sense of power. Still, he gets frustrated when strangers ask him personal questions about his sex life.
“On a number of occasions I have been asked if I can get erections because people realize that my disability affects my legs,” he told Scope. “Sometimes people who have no interest in me sexually will ask me the same question. Apparently, a disabled person wanting sex, or being able to have sex, is a novelty, a rarity.”
Spouses Kelly and Jaz discussed how Kelly’s disability has shaped their relationship — and how they respond to people who ask about it.
“I was so nervous about our first dance [at our wedding] to the point I actually considered canceling it because my legs often give way under pressure,” Kelly said. “Can you imagine a more high pressure situation than everyone watching you? … But Jaz convinced me. We danced to our song and Jaz made sure I was comfortable. I can honestly say it was the best feeling in my life.”
When Charlotte de Vilmorin was frustrated with the lack of affordable transportation options for people with disabilities, she launched Wheeliz, a company that provides renters with wheelchair accessible vehicles.
Wheeliz is based in France and currently serves the cities of Paris, Nantes and Bordeaux, but de Vilmorin told Mashable she has plans to expand internationally. The company is also looking into hiring its own drivers and launching a smartphone app, though de Vilmorin noted those aren’t currently their top priorities.
Everyone wonders just how much information to include in an online dating profile, and people with disabilities are no different. On Reddit, we’ve seen this subject matter pop up a lot in a few subreddits: Should you post pictures of yourself in a wheelchair? How do you avoid being contacted by people who are more interested in asking you questions than actually dating you? If you don’t mention that you have a disability in your “About Me” section, do you need to bring it up? If so, when?
A handful of Reddit users have recently posed these questions and more, and users with disabilities have responded to share their experiences and opinions when it comes to online dating. It seems to come down to this: do what makes you feel comfortable. Here are how a few Redditors go about it:
“I am a 31-year-old male who has had a C4/5 complete spinal cord injury for 12 years. So I’m a quad[riplegic]. I have used online dating on and off for at least six years … I found that it’s not a matter of finding the best website to post on, but having the best approach for your profile. As you noted, it’s important to disclose your disability properly so that a) you don’t scare anyone off, and b) you are[n’t] viewed as hiding anything. There’s nothing wrong with a disability, and you should be happy with yourself! Show who you are, which includes honest pictures of yourself.”
3. Be completely blunt
“I am very upfront about my disability, my profile pic is of me in my wheelchair and I always make sure guys know what they are getting into before meeting me. Yes, my forwardness might detract potential dates, but it saves that awkward conversation.”
4. Bring it up whenever you please
“I’m a mid-30s male with rheumatoid arthritis. When I’m in the midst of a flare I can become pretty non-mobile. However, when my RA isn’t flaring I can mostly pass for non-disabled so when I was online dating I struggled with whether to put it in my profile. I ultimately decided to not include it but that led the the next problem of when I should disclose. I usually did so on a second or third date. I felt bringing it up during the first date would suggest to the other person that I was really hung-up on it and that it would seem like a bigger deal than it is.”
The rules are not an addendum to the Air Carrier Access Act; rather, they seek to provide clarification about the existing regulations for both airlines and travelers. The guide address topics like what to do/know before flying, what airlines are required to provide people with disabilities, information on service dogs, how to file a disability-related complaint, etc.
When Beegle made a request to a flight attendant, she was told that nothing could be done to accommodate the family. Beegle told ABC News, “I asked if I can purchase something hot for my daughter, and [the first class flight attendant] said no. He came back again and I said, ‘I have a child with special needs, I need to get her something.’ And he said, ‘I can’t do that.’”