The only disability is a bad attitude!
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve seen No Excuses! plastered over the faces of the disabled. It’s extremely discouraging to be viewed as a living, breathing inspirational poster.
I was born with one hand, which is mild compared to other disabilities. But I’ve suffered through the whole “Wow! You’re so inspirational” and the “If I were you I’d probably kill myself” speeches. I’ve dealt with the sideways glances, the blatant stares, and the biting remarks of my peers.
I’m writing this so all able-bodied people understand how awful it feels when someone calls me inspirational for carrying my groceries home on the bus. Or how dehumanizing it sounds when someone exclaims that I’m adept at counting money with both my good hand and my nub.
I am not special. No disabled person is special. We are just people. Portraying us as inspirational, uplifting figures is condescending. Don’t applaud us for living.
It makes my insides feel rotten when I see other disabled people on television because they’re normally being praised for their “courage” and “ability to overcome.” It’s never about their accomplishments. They’re never treated like normal human beings. I see talk show hosts fall over themselves to congratulate the disabled for merely living.
We are not magic. We do normal things. I am not confident because I don’t hide my disability. I’m just being myself, and that doesn’t require a comment from some stranger.
I invite you to acknowledge my disability, and to talk to me about my disability because the only way this patronizing language will cease to exist is if people are being educated about disability. We do not deserve to be tucked away and forgotten, but we also do not deserve to be put on a pedestal just because we were born differently.