A research study was recently published that showed that one quarter of non-disabled people avoided conversational contact with people with disabilities if they could. One quarter! A quarter of a pie is a big, freaking piece of pie, it’s half of half. Now when asked they said that they were ‘afraid of offending’ us. Really? You avoid us for our benefit. You think that targeting and then isolating people with disabilities is something you do to protect us from you? Really? You’re that bad a person that you are removing you from any possible social contact with one of ‘those’ people. Gosh, how people can mask their bigotry behind the concept of kindness.
“Really, I’m doing them a favour!”
Let’s see how are the rules of conversation different than they are with everyone else.
1) Don’t talk about our bodies.
2) Don’t talk to us in patronizing ways.
Hmmm. There are other rules but they are the fine tuning rules that you learn from each individual, disabled or not, as to what they find acceptable.
Those are the don’ts, how about the dos?
1) Acknowledge us in the same way as you acknowledge others.
2) Accept that we exist and ensure there is space for us in line and in ordinary social banter.
Gosh, not a long list either.
Don’t tell me that your active avoidance is about this shit. I am not sure if the researchers believed you, thought I think they did, but I don’t.
It’s not our fault that you feel uncomfortable around people with disabilities. We didn’t teach you to see us as less or as inhumanly different or as pariahs to be avoided. Don’t know who did but it wasn’t us. So don’t blame your discomfort on us and don’t pretend that visually and socially euthanizing us is for our benefit.
We are here.
Grow a back bone.
Say, “Excuse me,” if you bump into us.
Tell us how hot it is this summer when we’re on an elevator with you.
Ask us if we liked the movie on the way out of seeing the same picture.
How hard is that?
Unless bigotry, not kindness, stops you.