wow – this week has seen very few posts. That’s not like me, I guess, but I’ve been busy and, frankly, uninspired. But I return to you today with a topic which I feel strongly about.
I was sat in class yesterday, and talking to the person next to me [I know, social, right?]. There were some worksheets being handed out around the classroom, which we had to fill in whilst watching each student do a presentation. I should add for contextual reasons that the presentations were on STDs – just what I neededon a Friday morning, huh?
So anyway, these worksheets were being handed out, and the person giving them out got to our table, at which point he said
“Does L” – I use my blogging name here, but of course they used my real name – “need a sheet?”
Why, may I ask ever so innocently, did they ask the person next to me? It’s not the first time that this has happened to me – far from it. Because I’m blind, or more generally because I have a disability, people automatically assume that I can’t speak for myself, can’t make a decision, can’t think for myself. Suddenly, a lack of sight renders me, in other people’s misguided eyes, thoughtless, unable to speak for myself, to voice my own needs, wants and opinions.
Where, then, have these misconceptions come from? To be more dramatic, where is the root of this evil? As I suspect, society is teaching people in classrooms and generally everytwhere else that disabled people are less capable, and need help with everything, not just the things which they are unable to do due to their specific impairment. The inability to speak is not a side-effect of blindness as far as I’m aware, and besides, this person is in a class with me! Yes, i’m quiet, but I’m not mute – not by any stretch of the imagination, and they’ve definitely heard me speak at least once in the last 2, almost 3 years.
It’s demoralising, not being addressed. It makes you feel inferior to everyone else, in a classroom where everybody has the right to be equal to the people around them. It is, quite honestly, mortifying to have to watch someone else answer a very basic question on your behalf, when you know that you have the ability to be asked and to answer that question very easily yourself. Deep inside, it makes me angry: so, so angry, and yet in many ways, I don’t even blame the boy who said it. Instead, I blame society: not the people who he’s learned this from, or the people who tought that person, but society as a whole.
This action – this presumption -, along with hundreds of others, is the exact reason why everyone is not equal in today’s society. Disabled people, after so many campaigns, and promises of change from so many groups and organisations, are still considered to be less capable, less able than those around them – around us.
I’m sick of it.
please, whatever you are told by the people around you, by your teachers, your paretns, your friends. Please, just remember that disabled people aren’t less capable, or inferior. We do things differently, yes, but we are still able to make our own choices, think for ourselves, and speak for ourselves, even if, for some, it’s not using spoken words.