Disability Pride Month

Image description: Rebecca, a white woman with brown hair, wear a colourful dress with a with polo, red shoes and a colourful beaded necklace. She sits in her wheelchair, with rainbow spoke guards,. with her arms raised above her head. Rebecca is in the garden surrounded by flowers.

July is Disability Pride Month.  At first glance, Disability Pride, can be considered as unwavering confidence, however this is one small part and may not always necessarily mean fierce confidence.

When I first think about Disability Pride I think about what my disability means to me. I think about my Cerebral Palsy and how it is a part of me. A big part of me that shapes my every day. From varying ways of my tremors, to the amount of energy I have, to the level of speed at which I work at, my CP looks different everyday too.  By getting to know and acknowledging the different parts of my CP, I know myself better.

Getting to know and understanding different aspects of my disability, I am able to communicate my disability with others. Though this may sound like a basic thing, it can also require courage to say such things, especially to people who may not be familiar with your disability. I first wrote on this blog about my CP—likening my CP to a lifelong teacher-. Though some of my thoughts may have matured from a few years back, learning about disability from different perspectives in the community.

Image description: Rebecca wears the same outfit. Her legs hangs over the right armrest of her wheelchair.

I’d like to think that through clear, honest and insightful conversations about disability, stigma can be reduced, challenging views about disabled people. It is a way to really see disabled people. It is a way to hear disabled people’s voice. By inviting such conversations change can start to be implemented.

Access can be put in place, in one vain in terms of physical access, i.e. lifts, ramps, hearing loops, audio descriptions, but also in terms of institutional access, i.e. work, education. Yes, a lot of places do have such facilities in place, but it’s not everywhere, and society cannot be branded as fully accessible and inclusive if not all of society is accessible and inclusive.

We have seen over the last year just how much disabled access have been but to the bottom of the pile. For example, it has been observed just how quickly things were put in place for people to work from home when in lockdown, even though this has been it requested by disabled people time and time again for such adjustments to be in place. Other clear indicators that have demonstrated that disabled access have been seen as unimportant is when, in another example, some restrictions were eased and cafes and restaurants were allowed to offer outside dining and tables and chairs were placed on pavements, which meant that this made it impossible for people with mobility aids to navigates streets that had tables and chairs on them. Or even more shocking when these tables and chairs have been set up in disabled bays! Need I say more!

Though I have given a few examples of inaccessibility, this must not overshadow our pride and celebrations in how far we have come. We can take stock of these achievements and can act as a reminder that access can improve. This pride and the celebrations of the disability community can also inform and trigger thinking points in others about how they can help accessibility for disabled people be better.

Image description: Rebecca still wearing the same outfit is siting in her wheelchair.

Events such as Disability Pride Month is an opportunity to highlight identity or what you have (depending on whether you prefer identity-first or person first language) is not shameful or dirty or something to keep under wraps. It is to highlight a part of who you are. It is to highlight the beautiful community that disabled people have built and the milestones we have crossed together. It is to highlight how we can continue to move forward and keep campaigning for change. This is what Disability Pride Month means to me.

I hope you have a lovely Disability Pride Month, however you are celebrating.

All my love XX

Come in and sit down…

Image description: Lots Bluebells in a wood and tall trees in the background

Dear Reader,

It’s way over a month now into spring now, with a whole season having past with my beloved angel in the sky.  The feel and the sense of loss hasn’t grown old, it still feels fresh.  I’m not sure if its rawness will ever fade. I don’t think it can. I would like to think that it is how we remember and keep alive those who have gone before us, that can give a sense of comfort and that they are in a some way still around. This is a note that I left on last time I wrote on here.

If you have read my blogs before, you may have noticed a slight emphasis I have on time. Time is something that I think a lot about. Whether it’s thinking about what time give or steals, how we occupy  time, how we wished time was like, the longing to speed time up or down, the memories that time has given us, the imaginations  which we experience if time had gone in a different direction and thinking about how we want the future time to look. I started this blog post saying how we have entered the next season in the year and what this have meant for me, with a huge absence being felt, that has come with it lots of reflection and trips down memory lane.

A few weeks ago I shared on Instagram the tongue twister that Dad used to say “Come in and sit down and don’t be outside looking in at the people inside sitting down looking out.” This was one of the things that kept coming back to me. It was one of his favorite things to say when I was a child. I remember laughing as Dad would say this phrase at such speed, trying to keep up with what was being said as I framed this in my mind. I always knew what was coming when he would start this tongue twister, “Come in and sit down,” taking a slight pause before he would  say the rest, though I would always be captivated as to what was to come next. I think this is why this memory is soo vivid because of how joyous such times were.

I have recently given more thought on what this tongue twister could actually mean, looking more closely at this phrase. For me it asked for division to end, or to start to close this gap. To stop looking on. To stop judging others. To join others. To sit with others.

When people see others who are different from themselves, they can cast them as outsiders and treat them unfavorably. They stand on the outside passing judgement, without getting to know them yet simultaneously thinking that they know everything about them.  They have listened to the stereotypes and words that have been associated with this difference and run with it, without ever getting to know the person and challenging their views. Here, I am talking about disability and the way that disabled people are seen-because that is what I have experienced and is something that is close to my heart.

It has been considered okay that disabled people have been viewed in this way. On the back of this, disabled people have had to fight to be seen, protest for their rights and, in one way or another, prove their humanness (even though we really shouldn’t have to). Sometimes though this is still not enough, as people have a hard focus on what they have been taught.  They are maintaining their distance, unwilling to let go of out of date/never in date ideas, looking through a metaphorical window from another room. Meanwhile we are over here pent up with fury and frustration at such judgment, wanting  to smash down that window and whatever is reflecting back at them and ask them just to dump the prejudged ideas that they have and to get to know us.

Now more than ever, this idea of disability needs to be removed that sees disabled people as less than, which could prevent adverse behavior from taking place.

Keeping the momentum going on spreading disability awareness, however hard it can get, is crucial in order for change to happen. On them not so easy days and going under a shell feels more comfortable, this is when we need to resist from hiding and say what is on our minds.  The reminder of Dad’s tongue twisters has been a massive pull for me, especially on them wobbly days.  It made me stronger and awake to do what I can to raise the rights and equality disabled people however big or small-to make passing judgement less of a thing. To encourage others to listen to what is being said. To create thinking points for others that makes them ask ‘What if it was me?’.

So, as Dad would say, come in and sit down and don’t be outside looking at the people inside looking out.

All my love XX