Disability Activism

When we discuss intersectionality, the patriarchy, systems of privilege and oppression, and more, there is always a group of people that seem to be forgotten. The feminist and activist conversations largely revolve around gender or race but usually have no mention of people with disabilities. They are set at a disadvantage larger than most of anyone because they are usually left out of the important conversations.

How many buildings don’t have elevators?

How many waiting rooms don’t have items to read in braille?

How many people throw a fit when closed captions are on in the movie theater?

There are many disabilities that people could have, and those disabilities are usually not considered with the construction of buildings, planning of events, or in work environments.

Some people with disabilities have stated that they don't have a problem with their disability until they go out into the world and realize that the world hasn't considered their needs.

People look to individuals with disabilities as a source of inspiration. Some people with disabilities find that behavior peculiar. Stella Young, a comedian, and journalist spoke in a Ted Talk about how she is not your inspiration. When she was a child, her community tried to give her an award that she didn't do anything to earn. She joked about the encounter claiming that it would have been an award for her achievement of getting out of bed.

Some people with disabilities don't want to be put on pedestals or treated as motivational speakers, but that is all society shows them as sometimes. Young described how on the first day of classes, a student saw his teacher, who was in a wheelchair and didn't process that it was his teacher. Instead, he thought that she was a motivational speaker, and he asked her when she would start inspiring the class. When people with disabilities are not brought into the conversation and are only brought around to give a speech and have privileged non-disabled individuals realize "how good they have it," then we are continuing the problem. Many people with disabilities do not care to be our inspiration. They want to be in a world that considers their needs so they can live, work, and enjoy life as much as the rest of us.

Activism isn't always going to a protest or boycotting something. You can be an activist for people with disabilities by simply looking at your life and assessing what you can do for them. Maybe you have a job where you can push for the needs of people with disabilities to be taken into consideration to create whatever project you're working on. Maybe you're the person who educates others on how people with disabilities need everyone to take their needs into consideration. That way, those with positions of power who can make changes that will benefit those with disabilities will be more informed to do so.  Maybe you are the person holding the protest to make your community aware of these issues.

The CDC provides statistics and percentages of how many people in the USA are living with a disability. They claim that two in five adults that are older than 64 have a disability and one in four women have a disability. Sixty-one million adults are living with a disability in the United States. Disability impacts us, our neighbors, our loved ones, our coworkers, and our communities.

People with disabilities deserve to be brought into the conversation and have their needs met. We all deserve to live in a world where we are given every opportunity to succeed.