There are a number of reasons I’m happy there but chief amongst them is the fact that, for the first time since becoming disabled, I am in an accessible apartment. The amount of freedom and independence that I’ve gained is immeasurable. I feel for the first time in 12 years that I can fully relax in my own home. There are no words to tell you what that feels like.
Understanding that, listen to this …
A visitor to my home was commenting on the place. This visitor is non-disabled and is typically quite a polite person. In conversation about the rooms and the paint jobs and the artwork on the walls they said something like, “The only thing is that the bathroom is really quite institutional, you know, really medical.”
I was thunderstruck.
All I said was that I liked it. No witty comeback, just a defensive, and slightly pathetic, statement.
Later, it angered me.
I’m tired of disabled lives being evaluated by non-disabled standards.
The person who made this remark has a home that I can’t even fucking enter. It’s completely and totally, and from every perspective, inaccessible. Yet they feel they can make a remark about something that makes my home HOME!
What does a non-disabled person even understand about the word ‘institutional’? A word that justifiably sends shivers down the spine of those of us with disabilities. A word that has a history of hurt behind it. A word that has been used to subjugate and separate us. What do they know about what that means?
Why do non-disabled professionals get to tell people with disabilities about how our homes should look, how our lives should look, how our relationships should look?
Why do standards for our housing and our inclusion and our relationships get to be set by people ‘understand’ our disability when they clearly place rolling under standing?
I don’t have an institutional bathroom.
I have a lovely accessible bathroom painted in the coolest shade of light green that you can imagine.
And if you don’t like the bars around the toilet and the roll in shower or the stand assist or the cut out under the sink … then mind your manners and shut the fuck up.