I am disabled. I was born with Cerebral Palsy and for most of my life I was an ableist. Don’t get me wrong, I never actively discriminated against other disabled people, but I believed that the discrimination we face in our day-to-day life was just part of how the world is.
Of course, things are inaccessible because most people do not need accessibility. Never mind, I will just find something else to do. Of course, I shouldn’t wear dresses or go dancing because then other people will see that I am disabled. Of course, I shouldn’t try things that able-bodied people can do quickly because I am wasting everyone’s time. I should be grateful when people offer to do things for me or carry me up the stairs. It doesn’t matter that it makes me uncomfortable, or that it isn’t safe, they are being nice, and I should appreciate it. I should be grateful for an accessible toilet or a chance to take an exam on
a computer. I should say thank you and be proud when someone calls me an inspiration. And I should never let my disability affect anything that I do. If I am not able to keep up with my classmates or my colleagues, I should just try harder and stay in the office for longer. I would never guess that you are disabled is the highest compliment anyone could give, right?
For the longest time I believed those things about myself and my place in society. It took meeting one awesome disabled woman that I am proud to call a friend to snap me out of my own internalised ableism. I have a right to expect accessibility everywhere, I have a right to adjustments that make it easier for me to do my best job at work, I have a right to wear dresses, I can ride a horse even if I need help to get into the saddle. Calling me inspirational isn’t a compliment and saying you didn’t notice I am disabled means that you haven’t been paying attention to me.
I realized all those things, but I still believed that I am not the right person to talk about them, to go out into the world and demand accessibility, to call out ableism, because what if I will get it wrong? What if I make a mistake and all the disabled people will get judged for it? But my friend made me realize one more thing. I don’t have to be perfect to deserve rights. And if I won’t ask for them no one else will. So, I am starting this blog to write up an accessible world for myself and for my community.