The Person With a Disability

Last week, I happened to catch the third part in a series about local blogger, Bruce Kramer, on MPR.  He blogs about life with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, and something he said in the interview jumped out at me:

“We’re all facing some form of disability in some way, shape or form in our lives. We just don’t know it yet. Or we do know it and we carry a fear that it defines us.”

I think many people try not to talk about their disability/difference because they don’t want it to define them, but in my experience, the opposite is true.  The more people know about my arm, the more people forget about it.  The less I am “the girl with one arm,” and the more I am the bookish librarian or the short, blonde girl or however else people might think of me.

So, yes… I talk about disability.  I have a zine about it (which I am working on updating).  I have a page on my blog dedicated to your questions about it.  I even published an article about books about it.  If you run into me on the street, I will answer your questions because the more you know about it, the less it defines me to you.

There’s a lot of talk in some circles about political correct speech–using “person with a disability” instead of “disabled person.”  While I appreciate the sentiment, I don’t pay too much attention to such details.  For me, the best way to be more than what people see is to make them comfortable with what they see–which is going to mean talking about it.

It moves “disability” to the end of the sentence naturally, or maybe even pushes it completely out of people’s thoughts.  I can’t tell you how many friends over the years have told me that they forget about my arm to the point that they get caught off guard when someone asks about it. Truth be told, sometimes I forget too about it too.

Take away point: If you want to forget about something, talk about it.  Your mileage may vary, but it seems to be working for me….   ;)

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2 thoughts on “The Person With a Disability

  1. Excellent post. Thank you. My disability is invisible (total deafness in one ear) so people sometimes have to be reminded, or they think I’m being rude when I don’t respond to them. It’s good to be able to get beyond being defined by one’s disability — I’m glad it’s working for you!

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