Image description: A mylar balloon with the words ‘Weclome HOME’ in large type in the middle over a bursting out graphic.
I took my first real spin in my power wheelchair yesterday. Up ramps, down ramps, round corners, through narrow passageways, I put it through it’s paces. Everything was working fine. Driving takes a lot of concentration because I have a new joystick, and no two are the same which means I have to learn the eccentricities of this one.
I am fully mobile again.
It’s been about a month and a half since I’ve had full mobility. I feel giddy with opportunity.
My experience of my disability, I realize, to a certain extent, depends on the level of access I have to my world. I realize this because my mobility was curtailed over the last several weeks but also because of some of the comments I’ve had when I’ve written about my chair and about how restricted I felt using an old scooter. Even in my scooter, my access to my world outstrips many whose mobility is reduced or eliminated by lack of appropriate mobility equipment or support.
The ‘right’ to access comes before the ‘right’ to accessibility.
I also had a discussion with a young woman with an intellectual disability who lives in a ‘family style’ placement along with her brother who also has an intellectual disability. She complained that he has access to the community, can go where he wants, can travel the transit and though she has the same travel skills, she isn’t allowed to go out. Her gender and her disability, according to her house parents make her ‘perfect prey.’ She imitated her mother’s voice perfectly when saying that phrase. Access, denied.
Today I’m going somewhere that I’ve not been able to go since mid December. I’m excited. But I’m also aware of the privilege that I have – I’ve got the means to access my world and I don’t have anyone telling me I can’t.
I feel lucky.
But I shouldn’t.
Because it’s not okay to live in a world where those who don’t have mobility and access are blamed for being cursed with bad luck rather than restricted by meanness and power.