People with disabilities are an inspiration

Words Are The Most Disabling Handicap Of All

An able-bodied person's perspective of how people with disabilities are inspirational.

Words Are The Most Disabling Handicap Of All

I've watched this TED Talk approximately thirty times now. I've sent it to friends and family. I've stayed up all night feeling angry, sad, enlightened and speechless. Now that I've finally digested the information that Stella Young threw into the world, I'd like to give my perspective from an able-bodied person who has experience working with people and children with disabilities.

Yes, you are my inspiration, thank you very much.

However, you are not my inspiration because you get out of bed in the morning and know your own name. You are not my inspiration because you do all of the "normal" things that an able-bodied person can do. You are my inspiration because you do these things regardless of society's expectations of you.

Stella Young is a supporter of the Social Model of Disability, which states that "the disadvantage or restriction of activity caused by a contemporary social organization which takes little or no account of people who have physical impairments and thus excludes them from participation in the mainstream of social activities."

A simple way to conceptualize this theory is that society is the disabling factor for someone with a handicap. For example, if a person in a wheelchair is attempting to enter a building with stairs, the Social Model would say that the lack of a ramp is disabling them, not the handicap itself. For someone who supports this model, I would expect Stella Young to understand what aspect of her disability makes her inspiring, at least to me.

It is no secret that words hurt. It is so easy to let the belittling words that are said to us affect the way we view ourselves. Being told "you can't" over and over again until we are convinced that we really can't prevents us as people-- disabled or not-- from reaching our full potential. That being said, I know for a fact that this discrimination is significantly worse for people with disabilities, because I'm not afraid to talk to them about it.

I've witnessed a girl who would never walk play basketball, run races, and win push up contests. I've seen a boy who cannot physically talk express his emotions in the most unconventional yet beautiful ways. I have watched so many people overcome their disabilities and defy the expectations of society. That is inspirational.

Stella degrades the quote "The only disability in life is a bad attitude."

Yes, no amount of smiling at the stairs is going to change it into a ramp. No amount of positive thoughts is going to magically get rid of a handicap. I, on the other hand, interpret this very differently. She's right; a positive attitude is not going to solve all problems, but it is going to help overpower the limitations of society's low expectations. Wasting time angry at a disability is going to do nothing but hold someone back from reaching their fullest potential. An "I can do it" attitude will prove everyone wrong.

That, to me, is the most inspirational aspect of someone with a disability. I have two functioning legs. I have a sharp mind. What I don't have is the ability to ignore the restrictions that society puts on me. I have been told I'm not good enough, and I believed it. I have been told I can't do something, and I listened. I have let people stomp over me and make me feel like I'm nothing. I have also seen someone tell one of my absolute best friends who has a handicap that she can't and then saw her say, "Watch me." That's inspirational.

If Stella Young wants society to view disability as normal, it's never going to happen. There is a reason for the Special Olympics, there is a reason for special education classrooms and there is a reason that accommodations are needed in our society. Although, however different a disability makes someone, it does not mean they are not equal. Different does not mean less. Disabled does not mean unable; it just means that they have a different way of doing things, and that way is not wrong.

Most little girls grow up looking up to famous actresses, superstars or famous singers, but not me. My biggest inspiration for as long as I can remember has been Temple Grandin, a woman with autism who committed her life to advocating for people with disabilities and discovering more humane treatment for animals in society. I cannot tell you how many times I watched her documentary, or read her articles, or considered wearing a bolo tie in the hopes of becoming more like her.

In comparison to Stella Young, I believe that Temple Grandin embraced how different her disability made her and used it to its advantage in her line of work. Instead of Stella Young's tactic of emphasizing the things she does that don't make her exceptional, I believe she should model as inspiration for those like her, with Osteogenesis Imperfecta, who are told they can't even do these "unexceptional" things.

Temple Grandin once said "There needs to be a lot more emphasis on what a child can do instead of what they cannot do." This exact quote is how someone with a disability can and should inspire others: take the things society tells them they are unable to and show them that they can. Exceptional or not, that's what the able-bodied and disabled community needs.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

119 People Reveal How The Pandemic Has Affected Their Love Lives, And Honestly... Relatable

"I haven't been able to get out of the 'talking phase' with anyone."

The reality is, there's no part of life the pandemic hasn't affected. Whether it's your work life, your home life, your social life, or your love life, coronavirus (COVID-19) is wreaking havoc on just about everything — not to mention people's health.

When it comes to romance, in particular, people are all handling things differently and there's no "right way" of making it through, regardless of your relationship status (single, taken, married, divorced, you name it). So, some of Swoon's creators sought out to hear from various individuals on how exactly their love lives have been affected since quarantine began.

Keep Reading... Show less

I oftentimes (excessively) use the excuse of my job as a writer to justify my excessive spending habits.

I needed the new Huda Beauty palette before anyone else in the name of journalistic integrity. It was my job to test out the new Francis Kurkdjian fragrance to make sure I could tell people whether or not it was truly worth the splurge (it was).

Keep Reading... Show less

I remember the days where closet drinking before going to a party or bar was part of the night's itinerary. It was a requirement to have a good buzz flowing before calling the Uber to take you to that bar where you see everyone from your high school at. The pregames were the best part of the night, but it wasn't ever because of the alcohol, it was because of the atmosphere and those who were in it. The number of times I've heard "Wait, why aren't you drinking tonight? C'mon, get drunk with us" is endless, but think about it. Where were you when you were asked that? You were at the goddamn pregame and being there doesn't mean you need to be ripping shots. Being social doesn't require alcohol.

I asked 20 people how they cut back on alcohol while still being social.

Keep Reading... Show less

This Viral Miami University Instagram Page Features Stories Of The Victims Of Discrimination On Campus

There's a new wave of battles for change on Miami University's campus, and Dear Miami is at the root of the fuel to the fire.

There's a lot going on right now, and everything is extremely uncertain. Some of the largest and time-old issues we're facing heavily right now are the ones around human rights.

Keep Reading... Show less
Erikka Chowdhury

To all of those who don't know me, I'm an American girl with South Asian parents who have carved their own niche as immigrants in the USA.

Keep Reading... Show less

Listen, you can do whatever you want with your free time. It's yours to spend and you have free range. However, I hope you recognize that there are a ton of proactive things you can do right now instead of stalking your man's ex – yes, I know you do it becuase we are all guilty of it.

Take this time to research your privilege. There are always new things to learn and ways to deepen your understanding of yourself, this world, and your surroundings. We live in a multi-dimensional, ever-changing society that needs your help and your time. By that, I mean there are so many layers to each and every one of us, and with our physical, mental, spiritual, or emotional selves, we can create real, positive change.

Keep Reading... Show less

Whether you are quarantining away from your significant other because of coronavirus or separated by the country lines at this time, it's fair to say that long-distance relationships are tough no matter what. However, there are ways to show love from a distance whether that's through daily FaceTime calls, cute Snapchats, or sexy pics sent to them on their phone. You can brighten up their day even more with some of these unique gifts that can fit any price range and a variety of interests.

Keep Reading... Show less

Preview These Top Nordstrom Anniversary Sale 2020 Picks — From Luxury Purses To Skincare

Currently 3 million people viewing the Stella McCartney purse I absolutely must have.

Online shopping has been a guilty pleasure of ours for years, but now more than ever it's been a shopping lover's outlet for all our home redecorating projects and resort wear we're purchasing for that trip we had to cancel.

One of my favorite places to (virtually) window shop has always been Nordstrom. I admittedly can't afford to go on sprees there often, but I still get a high off of adding things to my cart I know I'll never actually end up buying. But sometimes, that's not enough — that's when I, like the masses of luxury-, beauty-, fashion-, and decor-lovers around the world count the days down to the annual Nordstrom Anniversary Sale.

Keep Reading... Show less

Rihanna is known for many things: her music, fashion, makeup, and now skincare. As a makeup artist myself, I can confidently say that she rocked the makeup world when she released her makeup line in 2017 and has been influencing the beauty world ever since.

Trying some of her makeup products myself, I know that she doesn't skimp on quality, and even though some of her products may be a little pricey, trust me, you get what you pay for.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments