I’m very excited to write my first official blog! I thought I’d tell you a bit about me and my plans for this blog. Feel free to speak up and tell me what you think and if there are any topics you’d like me to discuss (or not to discuss if you’ve heard it too many times). Read more
In Which I Tell You to Listen
Within this life of difference, I’ve had a lot of people ask me how it is they can be a better ally for those with disabilities, and I always give one simple answer. Use your voices to help raise ours. If you notice inaccessibility, be aware of it. Bring it to attention, listen to us when we are voicing our opinions and realize, that disabled or non disabled we’re all going to have different points of view. I do not speak for all disabled individuals, I only speak for myself and no one should put words in my mouth, nor should I put words in yours. If you ask me my opinion, or something offends me and you ask me as to why, you are not to belittle my opinion. You are to listen. You aren’t expected to understand; I only know of my life. You are to hear us and know that we need to be listened to. An abled bodied/neuro typical ally acknowledges that they benefit from systematic ableism, and while that may be painful to hear, it is the truth. People benefit off of the fact that we are a minority, and it is through that acknowledgement that we can move forward. There is no “What if…” “In my opinion…” if you’re an abled bodied and nero typical person. There is nothing about us without us, and while I may not refer to myself as “differently abled” or consider myself as “able to do everything else a normal person can do.” I’m not going to chew off the head of a fellow disabled individual who defines their life in that way, because their life is theirs to define. There is nothing about us without us, and what makes disability a unique minority group is the fact that anyone, at any point and time, can join the club. That’s a little bit of a dark way to put things, but that is the reality. Read more
The word disability might mean something different depending on who you ask. To me, I consider myself as having a disability but I’m not disabled. Although I have limitations due to my injury, I have abilities as well. I have the ability to speak my mind; the ability to choose the way I want to live my life. I have the ability to access whatever means it takes to show people that “I am me” despite my disability. It doesn’t define who I am as a person or individual. Read more
I’ve been on the Internet almost since the very beginning, and in the entire time I’ve been browsing, looking at disability-related stuff, I’ve never seen anything quite as impressive as the online art exhibit Reinventing the Wheel: Stories of Life After Spinal Cord Injury. You know the online scene has really come a long way when art of this caliber is available online.
What’s so particularly special about this photo exhibit is it’s magnitude and depth. It features 21 people with all different levels of spinal cord injuries (paraplegics, quadriplegics; they nearly cover every level and completeness) and for each person profiled there’s at least four photographs. The photos are not your average wheelchair-user photos either. They are beautiful, positive and proud.
One of my favorite images comes from Ashley. She is a paraplegic from Oregon, and in one of her photos she is in a very erotic embrace with her boyfriend with a caption that reads, “SEX happens, also regularly…” The images in the exhibit show everything from parenting and returning to work to showing them in action, doing their favorite sport or even driving.
Their end-goal: To infuse the world with more positive images of disability to combat all the negative ones, which are copious and perpetuate negative stereotypes. It really gets old, which is why this exhibit was dreamt of. We have BACKBONES, a SCI peer support and advocacy group, to thank for this idea.
If you want to get specific, the founder of BACKBONES, Reveca Torres, a C5-6 from Chicago, is who we can truly thank. I remember she contacted me over a year ago knowing my contacts in the disability field, wanting me to spread the news about this upcoming photo exhibit and that they were seeking participants. I don’t know how many people sent in their photos, but I imagine it was quite difficult widdling them down
The photos series however wouldn’t been getting the recognition it is if it wasn’t for Reveca smartly deciding to partner with the National Museum of Health and Medicine, Chicago. These two great organizations can be credited for putting on this awesome exhibit. And before they put it online, Reinventing the Wheel toured the country, exhibiting in NYC, Chicago, Los Angeles, Portland and in Washington State.
I think it’s a massively great thing this exhibit is now available online. All the millions of people living with spinal cord injuries across the world can visit this photo exhibit in a matter of seconds, just like that, and the photos ARE powerful. They have the ability to inspire the newly injured and show the able-bodied public what we’re truly capable of.
– Visit the exhibit: Reinventing the Wheel: Stories of Life After Spinal Cord Injury
Which profile was your favorite?
The mission of the Ms. Wheelchair America Program Inc. is to provide an opportunity for women of achievement who utilize wheelchairs to successfully educate and advocate for individuals with disabilities. This is an experience that can help them achieve their goals and show others they are the person they know themselves to be. The purpose of the Ms. Wheelchair Minnesota Pageant is to focus public attention on the abilities and accomplishments since the onset of disability of today’s women. Read more