It’s Monday and time for another Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge.
Before I get to the answer to today’s question,
Rose is the brains behind this whole thing,
but I invite anyone who is interested in this subject to feel free to visit, not only her original post, but also the extended community I hope will grow on Facebook.
I read Rose’s questions and have been answering them, along with others, but I think a Facebook page could be a wonderful place to share posts and articles about disability.
I think RDAC and the Facebook page are a place to redefine what disability means to the people who live it, to bring awareness to the issues that surround it, and to express the challenges that come up when living with any sort of disability imaginable.
Hope to talk to you all there.
Q: What would you like the general public to know about your disabilities, disability in general, or any other relevant subject?
A: I have been seeing a lot of stories on the news lately.
There have been the multiple features about customers being denied entry into public buildings in Toronto, with their service animals.
Is it up to the police to do anything about this?
What is their duty to enforce the law that a guide dog or any other service animal is legally permitted in any public space?
I have had this happen to me in the past. I can feel these people’s outrage, to be denied the right to enter a cafe, to get something to eat, with their guide.
Then there was the story of a cafe which is run by all visually impaired workers.
The workers say, in the piece, they want to illustrate to the customers and the world that people with visual impairment are just as capable as anyone else.
People in the piece said they made excellent coffee.
I make coffee all the time. I can understand why they want to showcase this to the world. I think it’s great, but I didn’t like that there was a part of me which felt they could become a thing of entertainment. People sitting there and enjoying the show of blind people trying to serve their customers.
Are these stories becoming entertainment, like watching animals in the zoo?
I know, I know. This could all be in my own head and I don’t mean to be over-sensitive.
I just felt strange, as I watched all these stories on the news over the past few weeks.
In my gut, I understand, it’s important and it’s all a series of steps to educate and eventually enough awareness will make them see…
The stories and the feel-good articles are increasing, more and more lately.
On one hand I like that attention is bring awareness. I don’t wish for any “but” I might add to take away from that fact.
So I say however…
I feel an undercurrent, a squirming in my stomach as I sense the awareness heightening and the barriers being removed.
I want the public to know everything these media covered stories have been speaking about. I feel the urge to educate, to protest, and to advocate.
Then I feel the discomfort that I have to do this at all.
I think, I worry, that these stories are becoming our feel-good dose of the warm-and-fuzzies for us all, a mass media love-fest.
As someone with one of these disabilities, I realize a lot of this is my own issue, my own unresolved issues.
I want to show this discomfort in one more example:
I came across this article in the Huffington Post.
Is this real? Is it true? How authentic is this?
A woman is going blind and her husband struggles to help her and to go on loving her, the best way he knows how.
Is it right? Is it sweet?
Read for yourselves:
The acting feels forced. The script feels odd, to me.
People read this stuff and think so many things. I simply have no control on how this sort of thing is seen when it’s put out there for the public’s viewing pleasure.
It makes you feel good to read a headline like that. Publications like the Huffington Post come across stories like this and it’s an immediate jackpot. They know their readers will eat that stuff up with a spoon.
I can certainly understand the way she has of feeling like more of a patient or a child, the sense of feeling like a burden rather than an equal.
I know the sentiment. I just don’t know about its delivery.
I want to have frank and open discussions when I can, which isn’t always possible. It’s more likely that people will see articles and short films on YouTube, coming to their own conclusions, which may or may not help.
Here is the only place I can speak what I feel and know to be true.
Please think about these things when you read or watch them. These situations are rarely simple. They involve feelings and emotions. They are reasons to get worked up, to feel concern, and to register emotions that are often disguised from view.
I want to keep speaking and keep writing because that’s how I can be heard.
What are your thoughts on these stories? Do you read articles like this often? How do they make you feel?
If you could cure the disabilities that affect your life, would you?
I get asked this question more than most and have all my life.
Stay tuned for the answer, which has evolved some as I’ve gotten older.
And please feel free to like the Facebook page I linked to at the beginning of this post.