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If Able-Bodied People Could Experience What I Do

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Diversity. Change. Adaptation. These are just a few examples of words you may hear floating across the disabled community and in any population with vulnerability as one of their top issues. As a disabled person myself, I often wish for a place completely catering to me and others like me. I wish things were more accessible and easier for us to get around. It is already hard enough to get around in our daily lives. When we wish to go into the outside world, these complications are even harder.

For example, many cities don’t have good accessible transportation, and if they do, it can be awfully unreliable, leaving us to wait forever for someone to pick us up at the end of the day so we may go home just like everyone else. If you have ever met a person with a disability who has a fear about functioning in the real world, this may be the reason. It can be even more scary and unpredictable for us.

Imagine for a second having to worry about the steps most people just climb without thinking about us. It is not necessarily because they don’t care, but because they don’t have to consider it. I am not trying to call anyone out. I am not trying to call anyone who climbs stairs without thinking about disabled people who can’t any less compassionate. I am just saying it would be interesting to see the change that might be enacted if some of the able-bodied folks who set priorities in society had to use a wheelchair for a week, or simply a day. I think if they had to experience what people like me do, there could be some massive reform with accessibility. I think that sort of experiment could make a compassionate person even more apt to enact change for disabled people.

I am not going to act like I have the answers. However, one thing I do know is that populations often seen as vulnerable should be treated with equal respect. I know not all disabled people are able to “contribute” by working, but there are plenty who can, and they should be rewarded with acceptance and accessibility in employment.

We are not alone in this struggle. It is universal. But if more people wished to cooperate with each other to make things easier, maybe we wouldn’t be so vulnerable anymore. I just wish equal treatment was not so elusive, but I guess for now our only choice is to keep chasing it until our last breath.

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Getty image by Vadim Guzvha.

Originally published: January 23, 2017
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