(Reblogged) Ableism: Discrimination Against Disabled People by The Wheelchair Teen

Hey, guys! Around two weeks ago, I wrote a guest post for Da-AL’s blog Happiness Between Tails about ableism. In the post, I mention a few things I’ve never talked about on my own blog like: the disturbingly high percentage of police violence against disabled people, how insulting it can be to see able-bodied actors playing disabled characters, and international disability day. I know most people have already read it by now, but if you haven’t, I highly recommend that you pop on over and check it out!

Happiness Between Tails by da-AL

The act of writing forces us to contemplate things more deeply, to question what we believe. Bloggers, novelists, all writers lay ourselves bare when we publish. When we communicate our passions, readers are challenged to think — and they challenge us!

Thank goodness for the world of blogging, a Utopian alternate universe where anyone with access to a smartphone or computer, along with the internet, can send their unfiltered voices all over the world.

Without blog-topia, I would never have stumbled across Simone’s The Wheelchair Teen blog. There she lets us into her often fun, sometimes heartbreaking life. With good humor and patience, she teaches everyone to live with joy and compassion…

The Wheelchair Teen in her wheelchair. The Wheelchair Teen in her wheelchair.

Ableism: Discrimination Against Disabled People by The Wheelchair Teen

Hello, everyone! I’m The Wheelchair Teen and I write about my life as a black, disabled teenager. I’ve been disabled ever since I was…

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64 thoughts on “(Reblogged) Ableism: Discrimination Against Disabled People by The Wheelchair Teen

    1. Aw, thank you so much Roberta for sharing this! I’m honestly extremely grateful for your continued support – you’ve read more of my posts than anyone and your comments always brighten my day and motivate me to write and share better posts each week. I’m so glad to have met you via your blog and your book reccomendations and reviews are always ‘toppie’ as we say here in NL. 💛💜💜💙

      Liked by 1 person

  1. What a well done, informative, thought provoking and amazingly written post! Thank you for sharing with us 🙏🏻. Again, your honesty and vulnerability is so inspiring and a treat to read. I definitely agree with you about the media…it often misrepresents things. Sadly, it’s out of our control, but you are spreading such a powerful voice that many are listening to! Keep being amazingly YOU!! 🤗🖤

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much, Ace, this was every reaction that I was hoping for! I really wanted it to be thought-provoking and informative so this feedback made me so happy! True, almost every minority out there has been misrepresented by media at least at one point in time. It is out of our control, but hopefully, all of these small voices like mine speaking out will eventually capture an important person’s attention and make a difference. Aw, truly, thank you for always being so kind and encouraging. I know that you’re inspiring many people too with your beautiful, reflective writing. I guess we’re both making waves in our own way ❤😊❤

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Although I disagree with certain points (representation of disabled people by disabled people for example, Hayley Ramsey in Hollyoaks is played by Kelly-Marie Steward in the UK and US, Kelly-Marie is genuinely disabled) , stopping ableism is definitely something that we can do more of, and need to do more of. Even as a disabled person myself, I can teach about the things that affect me, but know less perhaps about other areas and could therefore similarly seek to improve. Lip-reading is something that has personally impacted me, and I’ve had people intentionally exaggerate lip patterns because it’s fun to mock a disabled person, which is incredibly frustrating and hurtful. I do think that we need to be very careful about terms like ‘community’ when referring to disabled people because it could promote exclusivity, rather than the inclusivity which we seek. We can’t say “you must include us in your society, but we are part of a community in which you don’t belong”. A community is inclusive, and that could mean, potentially, tolerating things like representation by able-bodied actors as a compromise, but perhaps with better knowledge provided by the people that they represent. I wasn’t aware of Disabilities Day either, so thank you for enlightening me. I enjoyed your post nonetheless, even if I don’t entirely agree with some of the points you’ve made.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Regarding the representation point – I didn’t really mean that an able-bodied actor should never play a disabled role, I just meant that the roles where they are playing slightly more physical disabilities can be very offensive. An able-bodied actor playing a person with a cane or limited hearing or something like that? That’s okay. But when actors have to twist and contrort their bodies to look more like us – that’s when it comes across more as mockery than anything else. Able-bodied actors can sometimes play disabled roles but with a ratio like ninety-five percent of disabled roles being played by able-bodied actors – that’s kind of crazy. We should at least get a crack at it ourselves! I agree, that’s what ‘nothing for us without us’ means – more knowledge and input provided by people with that disability when making such roles. I agree that the term ‘community’ could promote exclusivity, however, I’ve felt so alone and like a freak for being different than everyone else in the past, so finally meeting other disabled people and being a part of their community was an incredible feeling in my life. I think that a lot of disabled people feel alone and aren’t even aware that they are a part of an incredibly welcoming community that is there for them if they need it. ‘Community’ may seem exclusionary, but I feel like that’s only something that would really affect an able-bodied person. We are so often made to feel alone and isolated – I think that we deserve to be a ‘community’. There’s the black community and the LGBTQIA community. Why can’t we be one?

      “We can’t say “you must include us in your society, but we are part of a community in which you don’t belong” But white people certainly aren’t a part of the black community and that definitely doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be a part of society too. Isn’t that the essence of being a minority in the first place? Being a group that is seperate from the norm but still deserving the right to be accepted by it? I feel like in that respect, we should be prioritised over the people that might be offended by the term ‘community’. Thank you for sharing your interesting thoughts with me and giving me honest feedback about the post. It feels good to be disagreed with sometimes. Have a lovely evening! ❤

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I understand your points, but again. I feel as though there are a lot of questionable points here. For example, you mention that it’s okay for an able-bodied person to play someone with a cane or a hearing difficulty, but not someone who contorts their body because of their disabilities. I’m a disabled person who has a lifelong hearing problem and has periodically used crutches since 2002, so is it okay for an able-bodied person to portray me because it is in any way less offensive? I feel as though that’s a very risky statement to make and one that could end up upsetting a lot of people. Representation of disability should be equal across the board, however that may be.

        You make an interesting point about a disability community, however, I think there are a few things to take into consideration here. Firstly, as a rule, disability is not generally something that is celebrated, it is usually seen as a hardship that is bestowed upon an individual and is something that they have had to overcome in order to be able to live a life. A disability means just that – an inability to thrive without help or support, is that something to be celebrated,? Perhaps then, we should also be celebrating the people who have helped us, too. I can understand your point about wanting to feel as though you belong to a community, but please bear in mind my own experiences of attending a club (Families In Touch) which was run for disabled people was not a positive one. Disabled people can be very varied in their personal tastes and interests and sometimes disability is not enough to form a group of people in its own right. It may be beneficial for you to have that connection, but it may not be beneficial for others who choose to live outside of their limitations., but struggle to find activity groups that accommodate them. For me personally, it would feel even more like “a rock and a hard place”, between joining groups that can’t support me, or accepting my identity as a disabled person who can’t do what my able-bodied peers can do. Some places do strive for accessibility and inclusitivvty for all. Bristol Inclusive Thrill Seekers, for example, do accessible rock climbing for young disabled people.

        When it comes to the black community and the LGBTQIA+ community, they are of course a celebration of identity, but they are also a celebration of the culture, music, art and food that go with. How would you have, say, a disabled people carnival that isn’t at all a form of inspiration porn? What food would you serve that doesn’t fit the same criteria, how about music, art? It would be hard if not impossible to do. Lastly, I feel as though a disabled community would go through what the LGBTQIA+ community is going through now – an identity crisis. You will know I wrote a piece for Pride month about “kinky” as a sexuality, and it is something that I am deeply passionate about, and I gave my reasons why. For some in the LGBTQIA community then we, the kink community, absolutely do belong because of our shared history. However, for others, we definitely don’t belong at Pride. Add to this things like the ongoing gender debate and the LGBTQIA community is at times almost at war with itself. When it comes to a disability community, I believe that we would have clusters of people whom some say don’t belong. For example, what about conditions like asthma? Is it a disability, or isn’t it? What about behavioural issues or chronic mental health disorders like anxiety and depression? Who gets to decide? Suddenly, the disabled community could become the majority itself! I understand your passion, I’m just not sure that it would work, or how.

        I understand your sentiments on communities, however, I don’t feel as though race and disability are comparable because disability can happen to all people, regardless of race, age, gender, background etc. I think when putting it into context with sensitive matters like race then suggesting in any way that an ethnic minority should be put above another group because of their dislike of the word ‘community’ could spark an outcry in itself. Equality is not about communities and minorities, it is about sharing and sharing equally, and that is something that we are all striving for in modern times. I think calling out matters like misrepresentation could be beneficial, but I still don’t believe that creating a disabled community that in any way restricts able-bodied people is the remedy. We don’t make for equality by doing to others what they have done to us in history. Instead, we reach peace by rising above it.

        Enjoy your evening too!

        Liked by 3 people

      2. I am proud to be disabled. One hundred percent. I refuse to be ashamed no matter how much society tells me that I should be ashamed of my body and the way that I am. And I think that how much we’ve overcome should be celebrated. “How would you have, say, a disabled people carnival that isn’t at all a form of inspiration porn? What food would you serve that doesn’t fit the same criteria, how about music, art?” There are many disability carnivals all around the world and they certainly aren’t inspiration porn. What art can be found there? – Art by mouth and foot painting artists. Music? – People playing instruments with their feet and hands and singers in wheelchairs. Food? – Food made by chefs like Christine Ha. Celebrations like this happen all of the time, and it isn’t to inspire others, it’s because it’s a place where they can be themselves and do things how they usually do them without judgement. We also have history – hundreds of disabled people have fought for our rights by going on marches, doing sit-ins, and being arrested. You think they don’t deserve to be called a community? I know that you had a bad experience being a part of a disabled community, but that doesn’t mean that they’re all bad – we both established that Families In Touch handeled it awfully. I highly suggest you watch Crip Camp, there – the disabled campers described it as being freeing being around people like them and not having to constantly worry about ableism and what other people think about them. I’ve experienced it too and it’s an incredible feeling – I can only hope that one day you’ll be able to experience it too. People from other minorities also have different interests and likes. And, yes, there is infighting among them – but I don’t think that that’s a reason for us to completely give up on trying to have just one word that connects us a little bit more at all. Our disabilities are so different, yet we’ve been able to relate to each other so much. True, it may be beneficial to me but not others – but the opposite is true too – it may not be beneficial to you but it could be beneficial to others. It may not help you personally – doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have it all. It’s just a word – a word that could do so many people so much good. Asthma, ADHD, Autism, chronic conditions, depression – all of these things ARE already disabilities. They already have been for years. I don’t understand why there would be any dispute about what it is and isn’t a disability when these things have been within the category for as long as I’ve been alive. That’s why disabilities cover around one billion people around the world – it’s mostly conditions like this. No, it doesn’t make us a majority all of a sudden – we’re still at plain ole’ one eighths of the world. I think that you’re blowing that point a bit out of porportion. Once again, with everything that we have to endure – would it be such a bad thing to be able to hold hands through it when other minorities do too? There’s so many things we aren’t able to do – I hope celebration doesn’t become one of them too.

        Liked by 3 people

      3. Personally, I’ve never heard of any Disability Pride events, not until yesterday. I did some research and the only one in the UK is in Brighton with very, very minimal exposure. However, I think that the figures are somewhat telling in themselves. In 2019, 3,000 attended Disability Pride Day. versus 55,000 for Pride In The Park. If I’m giving you a very personal opinion, then it is something that I would personally choose not to attend and I think that perhaps given these figures, there may be other disabled people who feel this way, too. It may be because of a lack of exposure, but it may be about personal preferences as well. Again, this is not to say that it shouldn’t exist, it is simply to say that it doesn’t represent some other disabled people as it perhaps should or could. If disabled people make up approximately one in eight people, as you say, then why is Disability Pride Day so unheard of? Using figures from Wikipedia, I concluded that roughly 13% – about one in seven people – identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual. Assuming very broadly (and dangerously) that other labels (such as gender identities) ay also apply to them, why did Disability Pride, which accounts for roughly 12.5% of the global population, receive only approximately 18% of the attendance and much less publicity and support than Pride In The Park, even when proven disability discrimination in itself is a crime? Awareness is of course a problem, but could there also be other reasons at play? Unlike being LGBTQIA+ for those who are no longer oppressed, not every disabled person wants to celebrate their disability, and that’s okay.

        I think it’s great that disabled creators are creating things and again, I’d never heard of these events until now. I’m not saying that they don’t deserve to be a part of anything and I would never say anything of the sort, that is putting words into my mouth. The point that I was trying to make is that we should see these people as chefs, artists and musicians in their own right, because they are, not solely because of their ability to overcome their disabilities. As it stands, I absolutely adore Francesca Martinez, the comedian with cerebral palsy, and Rosie Jones, again the same. Both are absolutely hilarious and often talk about their disabilities, but they are funny in spite of it, not because of it. If you’re proud of your disabilities then I am very happy for you and if others want to be proud of their abilities in spite of their disabilities then I’m happy for them too. However, I just find it hard to understand how we can say “you can appreciate me for doing X in spite of my disability but if you make an example of me to able-bodied people who don’t do what I can do then it is inspiration porn”. To me, we’re trying to draw a very fine line at a time when we’re asking for inclusivity and acceptance. We have to accept that we won’t have it all in one go. It won’t ne a seamless transition and sometimes things will sting a little. There will be bumps in the road along the way and moments of inspiration porn may be one of them. I’m sorry I wasn’t clearer about that last night, I had football in my ear and a tipsy husband rambling on 😀

        Yes, I agree that groups or communities could be beneficial to people, but again this falls back to the point that I made about different people with different disabilities having very different experiences. “Disability” is not a catch-all term. We relate to one another because of stigma and isolation, but that is often about as far as it goes. I’ve met and dated men with autism, both of us arguably have a disability, but we were like chalk and cheese when put together. You are right about my own experiences of disability groups and we are agreed that Families In Touch was not a favourable memory, but if we’re not careful, we could end up birthing something similar again. Support groups are great and I am a member of OCD-UK and work hard to raise awareness of OCD during OCD Awareness Week so yes, I know how beneficial and meaningful they can be. However, I wouldn’t want an “OCD Pride”. Support and pride are not necesarily the same thing. For you, maybe they are, but not for me. I’ve always been supported by (and supportive of) disabled people, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that we all want to celebrate our disability, and that’s okay. We’re allowed to not want to celebrate Disability Pride Day if it suits us, as anyone else should feel free to, too. I’ve been wearing my black, blue and white Leather Pride badge all month, but I wouldn’t insist that other people wear it as well. People are allowed to do whatever suits them, as long as it doesn’t harm anyone else.

        “I don’t understand why there would be any dispute about what it is and isn’t a disability when these things have been within the category for as long as I’ve been alive.” Yes, they are, and again I have never said otherwise. You mentioned the LGBTQIA+ community in your previous comment and I called upon the infighting that I have seen there to explain that it can happen absolutely anywhere. All it takes is for someone to say that X is not a disability and for that message to spread and all of a sudden, you have a group of marginalised and oppressed individuals who feel as though they don’t belong. Do you know how I feel as a kinky person to be told that I don’t belong at Pride, even when I do? It happens, and it makes people not want to attend Pride events that they belong at, if they want to go. Everyone has a right to be proud of themselves however they want to be, I agree. My point was never that any one of these conditions is not a disability, my point was that infighting in groups is a universal problem and it would be foolish to think otherwise.

        Also, please don’t tell me that I am blowing things out of proportion. We can both agree that we have very different experiences based on our own lives and coping with disability, and we are both entitled to feel however we want to feel. If you want to celebrate Disability Pride and to be part of a disability community then I am very happy for you, but please understand that I am also allowed to express why it might not be for myself or others. We both live in democratic countries and democracy means that we both have a right to an opinion, whatever that may be. I also think that we should cap this now and agree instead to commit to equality, fairness and awareness, however that might look for us both 🙂

        Liked by 3 people

    2. Simone’s immense gift to everyone who happens by here is that she inspires thought & conversation. Disabled & abled alike, most hope to better things for everyone, yet we’re all individuals. For this reasons, it’s important that everyone feel comfortable speaking their minds & hearts.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I agree completely. My aim was never to silence Simone and I apologise if it came across that way. However, as a disabled person myself, I can only speak from and share my own experiences, too. Simone is a valued and regular commenter on my blog and I hope she always will be. With that being said though it doesn’t necessarily mean that we will always see eye-to-eye. People will disagree sometimes, unfortunately, such is a part of life 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      2. True. Don’t worry, I always will be – I love discussing and debating with you ❤ I’m happy that you value the comments that I leave on your blog. I deeply value each and every single one of yours too 💕💕💕

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I didn’t feel like either of you trying to silence the other – on the contrary, I’m impressed by the spirited dialog — as educational as the original post! I’m not disabled but am wondering if perhaps this can be likened somewhat to feminist movement, what with so many people saying they agree or that they don’t want any part of it because we should all be humanist. I do feel that people who gather themselves together, while the people who’re against the groups definitely have good points, it’s the groups who are best poised to create change. here in the US, I see how the right gathers huge strength from right-wing churches, whereas the rest of us, because we’re not so ‘grouped,’ aren’t as easily mobilized…

        Liked by 1 person

      4. You’re right – I think it can be comparable to that. Everyone has different ideas about what sort of forms movements like this should take. I agree, by standing together – groups of people are often more powerful than apart. Thank you for contributing and sharing your own two cents on the matter Da-AL ❤ I always love hearing from you! 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post! You make a lot of great points! Yes, schools should teach more about disabilities to children, yes to more (good/positive/accurate) representation in media and yes to more disabled characters being played by disabled actors rather than 95% able-bodied ones. I’m sorry you have been ‘othered’, I know what that can feel like and ugh. Big hugs. It’s true, there is so much more celebration out there for ie. International Women’s day or Pride month and and yes they deserve that, but so do disabilities. International Day of Disabled Persons should be celebrated as well! It makes me so mad apps like TikTok are actively trying to prevent disabled people from making content and it becoming popular content.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you, GaiaAthena 😊 I’m glad that you agreed with my points – all of these small things can add up to making a big difference. I’m sorry that you’ve been ‘othered’ too, you definitely never deserved to be treated that way. True, I wished more people saw disabilities as something that can sometimes be celebrated rather than something we always have to be ashamed of. I have BIG plans for this upcoming disability day. I’m so excited! 😊 I was really mad at Tik Tok when I discovered that too. They say they did it to prevent ‘bullying’ but they were being the bullies by silenceing work by disabled content creators.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I love the simplicity, honesty and confidence that exude from all your posts. This is a real eye-opener for many of us. Till I came across your blog, I did not know alot of the issues faced by handicapped people. My brother has Down’s Syndrome but he can walk.. Of course there were other issues we had to deal with and over time, we learnt to overcome them. I salute your good heart and your blog where you share your beautiful and heart-felt thoughts with the world. Stay blessed always, Simone. ❤️❤️🤗🙏

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much Diana, this comment meant a lot to me – truly. It’s still quite shocking to the think that people are actually learning from and paying attention to the things that I’ve been sharing. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that my words have such impact – but I’m absolutely delighted about it as well. I imagine that you and your brother have also had to face some difficult challenges. We may not be exactly the same – but I’m sure we’d be able to relate to each other when it came to certain experiences. I hope that you’ll stay blessed too Diana and keep posting your incredible, awe-inspiring poetry ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Just read your thoughts and felt like this needs to get viral. People needs to know. Thank-you so much for putting all these things together.
    And Im sorry, I also never thought about International day for Disabled person, and these discriminations. But from now Ill remember each and every words and inspiration you wrote.
    Not to mention, you are a brave, really brave, to stand out not only for you but for each and every Disabled person around the world with tons of potential to show this world.
    Have a beautiful day, Simone and da-AL.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You’re welcome, I’m so happy that you were able to learn from this post and that you’ve taken it all to heart so much. Thank you – that’s such a nice thing to say! I hope that it gets popular so that many others will read it and learn from it too. I’m honoured that you’ve decided to remember this post, hearing that really made me smile. I can’t thank you enough for these kind and encouraging words, Ritish. I hope that you will have a beautiful, amazing day too 💕🤗💕

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Thank you for sharing!!… “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” ( Mother Teresa)… keep those fingers doing the walking and your heart doing the talking!… 🙂

    Until we meet again..
    May the sun shine all day long
    Everything go right, nothing go wrong
    May those you love bring love back to you
    And may all the wishes you wish come true
    (Irish Saying)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You’re welcome, I’m glad that you enjoyed it! I really like that quote – they are very wise words. I also can’t change the world but I’m working everyday to make as many ripples as I can. Thank you so much for visiting and commenting! Have a lovely day! ❤❤❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. unfortunately I can relate all too well with both of your about how overwhelming it can be sometimes to keep up — tho it’s a good kind of overwhelm 🙂

        Like

    1. Thank you, yes – I’m still very grateful to Da-AL for allowing me the chance to share my voice on her blog. I agree, the International Day of Disabilities should be celebrated much more. Thank you so much for these wonderfully sweet words Cindy – truly. It means a lot that you love my courage and my smile. I love yours too and your amazing creativity 💙🌼💙

      Liked by 2 people

      1. You are soooo welcome and it was a GREAT interview. Very nice of her and your courage, strength and bravery speak for itself. You embody light and love. Awwww thanks and I do appreciate your support, showing up and being the kind of follower I try to be as well (it’s harder with more followers but be keep trying our best).
        My support is more than deserved. Your internal work and light, speak for itself.
        Awwwww… thanks so much Simone
        💖💖💖
        Keep shining❣️

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I can’t thank you enough for these kind words ❤❤❤ Don’t worry, I completely understand – you must have a lot of followers to keep up with. Don’t feel pressured to read every post if you’re too busy. I was also busy last week so I accidentally missed some of yours. So I went back this morning and read them all 😊

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Oh it’s a treasured pleasure… not to worry,
        💖 I actually hate when I miss my followers work but it does get hard to sustain.. trying to figure it out.
        What ?
        You missed one of mine?
        Really?
        No❣️
        How could you?
        Lol❣️❣️❣️🤣
        I see you caught up.
        Teasing and have a great day❣️❣️❣️❣️

        Liked by 2 people

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