Is it reasonable or even cool to talk about your disability in public, or should you just accept that you’re human just like everyone else in the world?
I tend to think talking about my disability should be first and foremost in my mind, and I get irritated when my disability gets put on the back burner in society. Talking about certain challenges many people haven’t experienced before or think are difficult seems to make them uncomfortable. My everyday conundrum is why is my disability shunned?
In today’s society, many people consider being politically correct very important. Popular culture today stresses that we should accept any individual, regardless of race, gender, sexual preference or disability. But I’m afraid political correctness has nearly eradicated the ability for an able-bodied individual to ask questions and learn about differences. Yet I believe this is done in part because the average person wants and tries to incorporate us into society.
Every disabled individual deserves to have the same rights as everyone else, but my
concern is this: how and when are we going to move forward if the average person doesn’t know or comprehend our struggles? I believe it’s up to us as disabled people to teach our peers about the different struggles we face in our everyday lives. We need disabled leaders in our community just as much as we need to be accepted in society. Once this happens, then people can truly start learning.
Another factor that ties into the political correctness scenario is that we disabled people face a more difficult job market and housing situation. The job market for people with disabilities is improving, but still needs a lot of work. I believe this is due in part to companies not understanding that a disabled person can meet the job requirements, or not taking the time to fully accommodate workers. Although only 17.5 percent of people with disabilities are employed, I believe this ugly statistic can be changed through job coaching, building resumes and peer support groups. But we disabled people need to be aware of the facts and talk about our challenges.
Many people say “my disability doesn’t define me.” I choose to say “How can I make my disability into ability?” I do this by advocating constantly on social media, writing articles on The Mighty and being a part of an adult support group. I have recognized that I can make a thing people some perceive as ugly into something beautiful simply by talking about it. This is why I exist. I exist to teach others about how I am different, how I have embraced my difference and how I can make it beautiful.
I believe talking about my disability has become taboo in certain situations, but that doesn’t mean I won’t try to roll past the negativity.
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