Note: Obviously, disability is an important topic to me, and as such I do watch disability blogs, news about disability, and I talk to other disabled people about disability. If there is anything that I have a hard time handling that relates to disability, it is definitely how people view disability. It’s especially hard when you learn that people have such horrible views about disability that they murder their own children because of it. I cannot look up every case I’ve found about it or every person who does admit that they would kill their child if they became disabled, because there is too many. One instance, is too many. Unfortunately there is far more than just one instance. Last night, I learned of another person who was killed because he was disabled. This cannot go on. It shouldn’t have happened in the first place. There is nothing anyone can change once someone is dead.
Fuck You, Our Lives Are Worth Living
No, really, they are. You tell us that our lives aren’t worth living because we can’t walk, we can’t see, we can’t talk, we can’t hear, we can’t use our arms, we can’t use our legs, we can’t live without pain, we can’t digest food normally, or we can’t be healthy.
You give us pitying smiles and sad faces. You pray over us. You scorn us. You stare at us. You tell us that we are too young. You tell us that it’s just common aging. You tell us how horrible our lives are and that you would kill yourself rather than be like us.
You keep us out of your shops, your homes, your businesses, your jobs, your parks, your schools, your classrooms, your offices, your libraries, and your government buildings. You refuse to make things accessible, refuse accommodations, and refuse to treat us like human beings. You say it’s too expensive to make event and places accessible. You say it’s too difficult to offer accommodations. You refuse to admit that you treat us like dirt because you see right through us.
You call our murders just. You sympathize with our murderers. You even call our murders “assisted suicide”. You say how terrible it was that we were disabled, and how happier we’d be dead.
We are human beings. We breathe, we eat, we communicate, we laugh, we cry, we figure out ways of getting around, we have family, we have friends, we go to school, we go to work, we go to the grocery store, we go shopping, we go to parties, we go to clubs, we go to libraries, we go concerts, we have birthday parties, we go to our friends’ birthday parties, we cook, we bake, we drive, we knit, we draw, we read, we write, we play sports, we venture into nature, we decorate our homes, and most of all, we have our lives.
Sure, we can’t all do that. Not all of us can work. Not all of us can play sports. Not all of us want to do everything. Most of all, some of us want to do everything, but can’t. When we are purposefully excluded from businesses, we can’t shop. When we are purposefully excluded from schools and classrooms, we cannot attend school. When we are purposefully excluded from homes, we cannot attend birthday parties or other hangouts.
We can’t all run marathons. We can’t all be Olympic athletes. We can’t all become the best at everything. We can’t all become CEOs. And the people who do become CEOs and Olympic athletes and marathon runners? They’re not amazing for “overcoming their disability”. They do not teach us that we can do “anything if we just believe hard enough”. They are amazing for thriving in a world that continuously excludes them. But they cannot teach us their innate talent for their sport, or their leadership skills. Tips, tricks, and advice? Yes, they can give that.
As for the “we can do anything if we just believe hard enough,” what a load of crock. Life is not a Disney movie. This isn’t Pinocchio; we’re not wishing ourselves real. There is no amount of positive thinking and believing that will get some of us up stairs. We cannot use positive thinking to get us past ignorance, we cannot use it to get up steps, or into inaccessible bathrooms, or jobs, or homes. Besides, since when do we ask able-bodied people why they’re not a marathon runner or an Olympic athlete? Why don’t we ask them? And then why don’t we put their human worth on whether or not they can play a sport? Doesn’t that seem utterly ridiculous and cruel?
When you pity us, when you give us your sad smiles, when you tell us how horrible our lives are, what do you think we are going through? You must not think that part of our irritation is because these creepy strangers keep coming up to you and telling you how much your life sucks, or else you’d cut that shit right out. We know you don’t think our lives are horrible because we can’t get into buildings and because we’re treated like second-class citizens. We know you think our lives are horrible because our bodies don’t act in a way you expect them to. You think we hate our canes, our crutches, our wheelchairs, our hearing aids, our ASL, our medications, our arm and leg braces, and all other assistive devices.
And sometimes we do. Sometimes we hate the fact that our canes and crutches can be ugly. Sometimes we hate that our assistive devices are borderline unhelpful because we need a new or different one. Sometimes we hate our medications because they do not work, or because the side effects are so terrible.
But a lot of times, these assistive devices help us live. They help us get around, they help us communicate, they help us go shopping, and out into the world. We do not all hate them.
We do not deserve to be murdered because we use them. We do not deserve to be murdered because we are disabled. We will not be happier dead than alive and disabled, we would just be dead. When we speak of suicide, it is a sign that we need help. It is not an excuse to murder us and call it “assisted suicide”. When we speak of suicide, you should help us like you help able-bodied/healthy people. You call a crisis center, you get us into therapy, into a doctor’s office, you don’t fucking just kill us.
If you want to help us, first take your hands and your assumptions off our bodies. Start with treating us like human beings. Realize that we do not deserve to be murdered. Realize that murdering us is not going to make us better. If you want to make things better for us, make sure the world we live in is accessible. Make sure the elevators work, that the accessible routes are clear and clearly marked. Listen to us when we say we can or cannot do something. Add a realistic number of disabled parking spots, there are more of us than you think, and we appreciate it when we’re not fighting over who deserves the spot more. Make sure that there are translators at your events. Make sure you don’t park in the handicap spaces, or block them with your trucks, buses, and cars. Make sure you’re not blocking the ramp or parked in the space between the spots. Allow us our accommodations, allow us our note-takers, or recording devices. Make sure we have accessible fire routes. We can’t all just take the stairs. Add closed-captioning on your YouTube videos, on your TV shows, and your movies.
And for goodness sake, when you start constructing something new, follow the goddamn ADA guidelines. It has been twenty years; there is NO excuse as to why you can’t follow the guidelines. If you want to really be helpful, remember that the ADA was only meant to be a minimum guideline; it was supposed to pave the way for new and more accessible construction, so if you make something more accessible, more people will be able to get into the building.
We are your family, your sisters, your brothers, your aunts, your uncles, your mothers, your fathers, your grandparents, your cousins, your nieces, your nephews, your neighbors, your classmates, your students, your teachers, your employees, your employers, and your friends.
Our lives are worth living. We deserve to live.