Sunday, 1 May 2011

The Fight Never Ends - #BADD2011

Today is Blogging Against Disablism Day (BADD).  BADD started in 2006 I believe making this the 6th BADD.  When it was first set up I was a campaigner and an advocate but not as much as I am now.  I was really excited by the prospect of this day when we could all come together and work towards a common goal - the fight against disablism.

6 years later? Not so much.

Days like BADD and other events like One Month Before Heartbreak are wonderful at raising awareness.  And they take a lot of work to organise so I have big respect for The Goldfish from that point of view - I would rerun OMBH but I'd really rather not!  The downside of such events however is the fact that once they're over the attention can fade.  No one can fight all the time and no one can pay attention to fights that continue endlessly.  Personally I am suffering somewhat from "campaign" burnout at the moment.  In a way I'd really rather ignore BADD this year but I know that I'd feel guilty if I did that.  But I'd like to ask everyone reading this to remember that whilst BADD is a once a year thing, disablism isn't and so the fight against it never ends.  If you take nothing else away from this entry, please remember that.

Disablism happens every single day.  If not to me then to someone out there.  I can't remember the last day I visited twitter and didn't see at least one mention of it.  Maybe not by name but implied in the description of what happened, the hurt feelings, the abuse or the pain.

There are a lot of things which happen to me which I don't consider disablism because they are my disability normal.  Some of them I deliberately choose not to blog about because in the grand scheme of things it's not a big deal and it's easier to move on.  But then I find that if I do tell friends about them, just mention it in passing sort of thing they can be surprised by what my life is really like and think things are terrible when to me they aren't.  That's absolutely ridiculous isn't it?  The struggles of life with a disability, of disablism blatant or accidental are so normal to me that unless it's huge I don't always register it.  Truth is however I can't go along thinking and focussing on the negatives in life and how terrible things are because I'm already on antidepressants and I'd need a whole lot more if I did that.  I can choose to wallow or I can choose to live life and fight despite my disability.  And I choose acceptance, a fight and lots of living.

Want to hear something else that's totally ridiculous now I think of it?  I recently had a conversation with someone whose partner (an acquaintance of mine) had started using a wheelchair a couple of weeks before.  I think it was unexpected and by the sounds of things it's not been very easy.  All of which I'm sure we can agree is totally understandable.  But as we were talking (this was just a brief chat) a couple of things they'd been finding difficult came up in conversation.  They were surprised by what those were.  I was surprised by their surprise.

That's something that always happens when I talk to new or short term wheelies.  They talk about how outraged and shocked they are that they had to be lifted up a step into the cinema or the restaurant they'd been looking forward to going to didn't have access when they got there.  And I sit there and think "welcome to my world" and their shock and surprise surprises me.  Because things like that are normal to me and if I'd not been somewhere before I'd check into it.  It's rare that I can just head out the house and go somewhere new without some advance research and there's always this little part of me that wonders at the fact that others don't have to do that.

Disablism, problems with access and other disability related issues and obstacles no longer surprise me.  That's gotten to be true to such an extent that when I went to the hairdressers (in a new premises) on Wednesday and they knew where their moveable ramp was, knew how to use it, it worked for me and there was no fuss whatsoever I was surprised.  (and so was my (nondisabled) Mum when I told her - she commented they must have been practising as they knew I was coming).  But the fact that's the case? It's totally ridiculous.  The fact that I talk to new wheelies about issues and the fire they still have surprises me?  Even more so.

But that's what life is like for me.  It's what life has been like for me.  Disablism, disability etc have all been a part of my life.  They will all continue to be a part of life for me as long as I live.  I hope however that as the years go by it will be much much less.  But must of all I have a hope for all the new wheelies and other disabled people out there.  Those who today have had accidents, or strokes.  The small children with CP just learning about their wheelchairs.  I hope that they never find disablism becomes "normal" to them.  I hope they never become as bitter as I am at times about it.  Because that, to me, is why we have events like BADD.  It's why I am, and always will be, a fighter.  However reluctantly at times.


Heather said...

Good post Emma. Know where you're coming from. Having had both sides of the coin I have days of outrage and days of shrugging.
No one can fight all the time.Even in my relatively short time being disabled I can see a difference.
Just keep swimming huh?
H x

Emma said...

yes Heather, just keep swimming indeed. Em xx

Wheelchair Dancer said...

I know how hard it is to keep going .... but I also know the importance of taking a break. The community cannot afford to lose our best spokespeople.

The welcome to my world amuses me, too.

Wicked grin!


Duncan Edwards said...

Good points Emma. The balance of when to cause a fuss and when to just walk away is a daily decision for us. My OH has been a wheelchair user since 15, but it's me who is always ready to cause a scene when we can't get access. Have to find the balance of when to make a point but not let it spoil our day. I wrote about a similar theme here "Choosing your battles"


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