BADD ’17: In Defense Of The Able-Bodied

I’ve wanted to write this post for a long time, but it’s one of those “tread lightly” things, and that’s not my best skill, so I’ve put it off, but I think today is the day.

I’ve written before on whether or not it’s possible for those with disabilities to be ableist towards others with disabilities. While it’s a divisive topic I think it’s an important one to acknowledge and discuss in certain situations.

As excited as I was to join a swim team I knew I wanted to continue when the season was over, which ended up not being in the cards for a few reasons. I also knew the season was really just a start and I needed to find the next step.

I asked people for advice, people who have been around and faced some of the same challenges, but I didn’t exactly go how I thought.

Before I even made a viable connection, people tried to talk me out of what I had in mind.

It didn’t make sense to me, if the end goal was to create a more inclusive environment what was so bad about my plan?

I showed up to my 1st masters swim practice with extreme caution. I wasn’t sure it was going to work, especially after watching the junior team practice, but I needed to give it a try. I had 1 private session with a coach a few months before and I was still reaping the benefits. If I backed out of a chance at team practices I would regret it.

It was a hard practice but everyone seemed welcoming. I’ve kept a list of goals since I started swimming again. I had been steadily chipped away at them but things stalled, until this practice. I ended up crossing off almost everything else on the list.

Then nearly everyone who encouraged me to seek out other opportunities tried to talk me out of it, even when I didn’t ask for their opinion.

It wasn’t good for me to leave people “who are like me” or “could understand someone like me,” at least according to them.

I understand their concern, at least usually, but what confused me was these comments were coming from people actively working towards more inclusive sports. So, why shouldn’t I join an able-bodied team? Especially if it’s a better fit, in almost every way.

I know there are those out there who feel that I’m betraying “my people” but if the ultimate goal is for people with disabilities to be seen as equals to the able-bodied community so we need to become part of the able-bodied community whenever an ideal situation presents itself.

At least that’s what I think.

I’m not going to say that the change has been seamless. It’s been full of adjustments, not so great practices, and at times downright culture shock.

But I can say without a doubt that I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t made the change.

And that’s made me think a lot more about inclusion.

When we see a chance for inclusion we should take it, we need to take it. It doesn’t always come with the betrayal of the disability community, and if we keep seeing it that way then we probably should change our approach.

Inclusion isn’t a one-sided issue, we can’t just stand around and wait for people to include us. We can’t just yell, and bitch, and moan about it either, there has to be some meaningful effort on our part, and it doesn’t have to be some grand gesture either.

Sometimes “just” showing up and seeing what could happen is enough.

Blogging Against Disablism Day, May 1st 2017

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Am I So Different Now?

One of the best things about relaunching a blog (and pulling down another one) is the ability to not only look back on previous material but also edit it if it feels right. The post I’m sharing is one of the 1st I wrote and kept (there are countless others that hopefully will never be found again). I was planning on editing it so it would make more sense for here and now. After reading it fully, I decided not to. This was one of the first (and at the time few) posts I wrote about disability.
__________________

Last year I got my first wheelchair. It wasn’t my first first but it was the first one built specifically for me. I was so excited the day my rep brought it to my house I practically knocked him over at the door.

As excited as I was to have a wheelchair I could call mine I needed to learn how to use a piece of equipment that was meant for me. Not only did I need to learn how to use something that was meant for me. I needed to learn how to use it correctly, and in the manner, that it was meant to be used. All of this is more involved than you would think. My chair is smaller than any chair I’ve had before, even though I’m bigger. Aerodynamics is a great thing but it can also bite you in the butt.

To help my chair and I become more of a team I went back to P.T. for mobility training. After all, the main purpose of ordering a wheelchair for me was to increase mobility. I couldn’t very well accomplish that without knowing how to get around in a non-wheelchair accessible world in a wheelchair. I spent hours learning how to go up and down curbs (safely), how to propel myself up steep ramps, if you can think of it we probably at least discussed whether I should learn another skill set or not.

Another important thing I had to do was strength training. If you’ve seen a full picture of me, or know me in person, you can see that my upper body is more than twice as strong as my lower body so you wouldn’t think strength training would be something I’d have to be concerned with, as far as my upper body is in question. The truth is the muscles you need to get yourself up a curb are the very ones that are underdeveloped in my body. I don’t know about you, but I found it to be kind of funny.

Not only did I learn proper wheelchair mobility. I learned to hate a completely new set of gym equipment; the arm bike can bite me.

The extra P.T. sessions weren’t enough. It’s one thing to maneuver a P.T. curb. The real world provides extra challenges that P.T. can’t prepare you for (sorry to all the recent spinal cord injury people out there who might be reading this). So I had to enlist someone else to help me out, so I wouldn’t flip myself over into the street.

I’m getting to my actual point now, I promise.

I went on a “walk” with my mom down the street. We live in a quiet neighborhood, at least now it is, so worrying about running into someone I knew was going to be extremely rare. It’s mainly why I agreed to go on a walk in the first place, until that day I had just practiced around the rehab where things wouldn’t seem so out of place. Shallow, yes, but everyone has a shallow moment now and then, even if I had been waiting to have my own wheelchair for who knows how long. It’s an adjustment. I still have moments these days.

Not too long into our walk I see someone I think I know, but she ran right past us without a second glance, so I let it go. Not too much longer after that the same person comes back down the street, walking this time. I quickly decide not to say anything. My mom doesn’t either because she doesn’t remember who’s walking toward us, thank God because she has a knack for calling attention to situations when I’d rather just ignore everything going on, like most mothers.

Unfortunately, the person walking towards us realizes she knows me and by the end of our interaction I’m very angry and wishing either she or I were dead so the whole thing would never have a chance of happening again.

This person I ran into happens to be the mother of one of my best friends in grade school. My weekends were either spent at her house or her daughter, my friend, was at my dad’s house. Therefore, my mother does not know her well. They rarely crossed paths, almost never.

What shocked me about our short reconnect was that she talked to my mother rather than me. My mother. She doesn’t even know my mother’s name! Yet she talked exclusively to my mother and she doesn’t even know my mother’s name. So, that last statement isn’t exactly true.
She did talk to me. Like I was a toddler!

Just because I’m lower than your eye level doesn’t mean my IQ has gotten any lower. If you know me talk to ME, not the person I’m with because you think I’m somehow damaged and will interpret your clearly lacking social skills as acceptable.

She then goes on to tell me that her daughter, my former friend, graduated from a very prestigious school with a very high paying degree and how she’s living in New York doing paralegal work, not her field of study, because she’s “trying to find herself.” She then adds that my former friend is also living in one of the best areas of New York City in penthouse with a friend, for free, because this friend is so filthy rich her parents pay for everything. She never thought about asking me, or my mother for that matter, what I’d been up to. She never even asked the customary “How are you?” anywhere in the conversation.

This was when I finally got why my mom was, and still is, against playgroups. Or at least I finally understood her theory on playgroups and why she doesn’t like them. Who the hell wants to deal with all that bragging from people who think you’re less than they are?

Normally this wouldn’t bother me so much. I’m use to people treating me differently when I’m using a wheelchair and when I’m walking around. It’s become water off a duck to me. I just let it roll of my back. People are too ignorant to make the effort worth much. Although rolling over their foot is always an option.

What made this time different was that this was the same person that treated me like I was an adult when I was 9. Now that I’m 23, at the time of the event, she treats me like I’m 2. She knows I have a brain in my head and that I’m capable of expressing myself. She was even the one who pointed out to my father that I needed more structure and stimulation in my life because of my critical thinking skills. She also made sure my dad got me interested in activities higher than my grade level because I needed it to feel good about myself. But on this one day she forgot everything she ever told my dad, and me. She completely made me think twice about who I thought she was, and under minded my respect for her.

I still have a bug in my underwear about it, as you can probably tell.

I was so offended that I had to go home and be alone. If I had talked to anybody after this conversation I would’ve taken out my frustrations on someone who had nothing to do with why I was so mad and didn’t deserve to have to deal with my wrath because of it.

Is it society’s perception about people with disabilities that makes almost everyone act this way? What’s it going to take for people to see that people with disabilities are just as much individuals as people without disabilities?

I am not my disability.
I am not your idea of my disability.
I am a person.
See me as a person.
Treat me like a person

*A similar version of this post was written on November 2, 2008

I’m participating in WEGO Health’s Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge. If you want to find out more about Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge visit their blog, Facebook, Twitter. You can find more posts by searching #HAWMC.

 

Why I: Don’t Feel Obliged To Advocate

A tweet came to my attention recently that I feel I should address.

However, I must issue a warning that it hit a nerve (or more like stomped on it) for me.  It might even have ventured into “trigger warning” territory with me but you’d have to check with Mac & Katherine on that one to be absolutely sure.

Now it’s an honest question and if I wasn’t part of the CP community in the way I am now, if I were a parent instead (for example), I might have the same question.

As someone who has Cerebral Palsy and is pretty high functioning I’m probably going to get some kind of backlash for my answer, but might get some sort of support too.

In short, I do not feel an obligation to reach out to those who are more severely effected by CP.

Now if we’re talking about reaching out in terms of forming friendships with those who are more severely affected; I’ve felt like people tried to force the issue when I was younger whereas it’s virtually nonexistent now. I don’t think you should be friends with someone just because you share the same disability. For me it would be like everyone with brown eyes being friends. More goes into a friendship than one commonality.

If we’re talking about reaching out in terms of community advocacy, my answer is still no, but longer.

We are one community but we don’t act like it, more importantly (from my point of view) we aren’t treated as one community.

The way I see it we’re 3 major parts of 1 community, and each part has an element of self-involvement, which is its biggest asset but it’s also the biggest obstacle for greater unity in the CP community.

In case you’re wondering, the 3 major parts (again according to me) are:
1) Parents of kids with CP
2) Parents of adults (who can’t advocate for themselves) with CP
3) People with CP

There’s a reason why I listed them in the order that I did with CP often receive the least amount of support (based on my own experience).

I’m sure you’re heard the saying, “secure your own oxygen mask before assisting someone else.”

My whole life I’ve not been what someone or an organization was looking for:
-I couldn’t get a wheelchair as a child because I could walk.
-I couldn’t try out for any age group swim team because I was disabled.
-I couldn’t receive intensive post-operative physical therapy (ordered by my physician) because I wasn’t disabled enough.
-I can’t learn to drive from anyone other than someone appointed by the state because I’m too disabled.
-I can’t receive job searching assistance because I’m not disabled enough.
-I can’t qualify for assistance grants because I can work.
-I don’t receive the most basic medical care because I have a disability & I’m considered too old.

I was in my 20s before I realized help wasn’t going to come and find me, like it seems to do for countless other people. I had to go find it and even finding help doesn’t mean that I’m going to get help. It’s always been a running joke that I’ve never really fit into a mold or set of rules, but this was real life and not a joke.

I don’t feel obligated to reach out to those who are more severely affected by CP because there are more resources out there for them. Also I can’t advocate for everyone in the CP community because it is so diverse. I stick to what I know best, but if that ends up helping more of the CP community than great.

I need to put on my own oxygen mask before I can help anyone else.

BADD ’16: Ablesim In Social Media

Today is Blogging Against Disablism Day. Blogging Against Disablism Day

I remember one of the first things I learned about the internet was don’t click on banner ads because most of them were viruses that could destroy your computer. As a result, it takes a lot to get me to even glance at an ad anywhere on the internet.

Every couple of weeks something happens to my computer, or rather the internet.
It thinks I speak Spanish.

I don’t know where or rather how it comes to this conclusion. I took Spanish for years in school but I can only remember a handful of words, none of which can be put together to form a coherent sentence.

I know people are worried that the data miners will find out too much about them from their social media habits. I have the same concerns; however, I’d need the internet to get something remotely right before I get that concerned.

In addition to thinking I speak Spanish the internet also thinks I use catheters (among other things) and want to sue people over the fact that I’m disabled.

That last one has made me change my social media engagement practices.

I realized that not paying attention to ads I am being complacent in what people assume I feel about being disabled. Yes, it would be nice to have more money at my disposal but that would mean stating that I think it’s wrong that I have a disability.

I’m sure whatever algorithms used pick up on the fact that I write about disability, and not being human don’t go much further than that. Still nearly 100% of the ads I see portray a negative view of disability.

Last week I started to not only look at the ads in my news feeds but do something about them too.

I’ve alternated between reporting “this ad is not relevant to me” and “this ad is offensive.”

Because 99% of them are not relevant to me, but they could be relevant to someone else.

I want to label all of them offensive because they’re offensive to me, but I admit I may be slightly oversensitive given that I’ve gone to paying attention to virtually none of it to all of it in the span of a day.

The internet is a powerful tool, it provides so much good to everyone who has access to it, but it also provides a lot of bad (and/or useless) information. Anyone can say anything they want and they can get away with it.

What does this mean for the disability community?

It means that ableism can come from anywhere, obviously.

It’s a good thing really. Not that ableism is ever a good thing but it gives advocates, like myself, talking points we might not have thought of if it wasn’t for things that came across our path that we didn’t agree with.

For every 1 ableist item we see we should come up with at least 2 disability items to highlight the positives of having a disability. The disability community may not have the money but we have the numbers, and more are joining the community every day.

For example, (and this is just one of the many examples obviously) the parents of the newly diagnosed child should be able to sit down at their computer and be able to find the good things about being disabled alongside some of the harsh realities. Because being disabled isn’t all doom and gloom, sadness and pity, or worthlessness or being less than.

Would I like ableism to be a thing of the past? Absolutely, but the world is full of ignorant people so, although it may seem like a pipedream now that doesn’t mean it has to be one in the future.

I’ll keep doing my part in small ways, big ways, and every way in-between.

Now about the internet thinking I can speak Spanish thing………

Blogging Against Disablism Day, May 1st 2016

Standing Is Stupid

Being the occasional reader of What Do You Do, Dear? I came across a poem by Shel Silverstein, not surprising since Mary Evelyn is an elementary school librarian, that made me laugh and shake my head in agreement. I don’t remember if I ever heard or read it during my early school days, but even if I did I think it takes on a different meaning for me now.

It goes….

“Standing is stupid,
Crawling’s a curse,
Skipping is silly,
Walking is worse.
Hopping is hopeless,
Jumping’s a chore,
Sitting is senseless,
Leaning’s a bore.
Running’s ridiculous,
Jogging’s insane-
Guess I’ll go upstairs and
Lie down again.”
Shel Silverstein, A Light in the Attic

I don’t know why, or when it happened, but for some reason standing, and walking even more so, became “the line in the sand” for people with Cerebral Palsy but it is.

I regularly get emails asking if I can walk, or asking at what age I learned to walk, or if I think someone else (often whom I’ve never met) will ever walk.

I am not a doctor, although I’ve always thought it would be cool to play one on TV.

I need to also tell you that doctors, although smart, do not know everything; nor can they inconclusively predict the future. Plus, technology and medicine is growing so much more quickly than it did even just 5 years ago, even I have trouble accepting a conclusive prognosis of anything.

I’m not saying that if you’re told your child or yourself will never walk to accept that and move on. It takes a lot to learn to walk when you have a condition that makes nero-muscular coordination difficult, so not only does it take a lot of work it takes time and money and often it does take a village. I’m not saying it’s not worth the effort but it will come with some sacrifices with no real guarantees of the desired end result. So it’s worth weighing the pros and cons, and often more than once.

Walking isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be.

In fact, able bodied people spend time trying to figure out ways how to walk less but when you have a disability that’s all anyone seems to want to focus on.

I used to say to people, “I use a wheelchair but I can walk,” even when no one asked; even I felt like I had to tell people that I can walk.

I no longer volunteer such information because a person’s ability to walk or not does not give their life value. Because a person can walk does not mean their life is more meaningful than the life of someone who cannot, or even makes the conscious decision not to for the good of one’s own health (in my opinion).

The fact that I can walk around the grocery store doesn’t mean much if I’m in too much pain to put away the groceries when I get home.

The ability to board an airplane without an aisle chair is fantastic but it doesn’t help me when I have 20 minutes to get from one gate to another if the terminal is the size of the small city.

The capability to walk down the sidewalk isn’t worth much if every time you do it you’re at risk for falling and hurting yourself, or getting blisters on your feet so large that you shouldn’t put on shoes for a few days afterwards.

Being able to enjoy a rare lunch out with friends loses something if you know you’re going to end the day early in part to the side effects of high powered pain killers and pure exhaustion.

The idea that you can do something doesn’t always mean you should, and yes that does apply here as well.

If the use of one’s legs was really so important to someone’s daily life, then wouldn’t they become lifeless the moment their legs couldn’t do anything? You need a brain, a heart, lungs, and a host of functional organs to live. If you really think about it, your legs don’t have to be able to allow you to stand up, walk, or run, in order to live.

Wheelchair users, or anyone else who uses assistance for mobility, can and do live full and productive lives, and they’re happy while they’re doing it too. A wheelchair doesn’t automatically confine a person or make them “less than.” In fact, for many people using a wheelchair, or crutches, a cane, or a walker, opens up a world of opportunities.

So next time you’re thinking about what makes a life more or less meaningful consider the words of Shel Silverstein and then try and learn something about someone who doesn’t walk as much as you might.

You Need Legs To Run

For some reason I’ve found myself in the company of runners (at least in the last decade and a half). Occasionally someone would make a comment about my ability (or lack of) to run and I’d brush it off with an accompanying reason, like, “I’m not interested enough to invest that kind of money in a track chair, especially since they’re not covered by insurance.” It wasn’t a lie, but it wasn’t exactly the truth either.

All of the questions/comments were innocent but not all were eloquent, for example, “Blind people run marathons,”

Because blindness and Cerebral Palsy are right next to each other on the wide spectrum of disabilities…..

“You need legs to run. That’s basically my weakest body part,” was the only remotely sensible thing I could think to say (but “ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR EVER LOVING MIND” almost came out instead)

Now I know you don’t really need legs to complete a marathon. Tatyana McFadden has proven that again and again and probably will again. But running using my legs were the context of the conversation so I went with it.

It’s the less than eloquent comments that make me think, am I doing too good of a job assimilating into able-bodied society? (I’m sure there’s a more eloquent way to state that, but I’m just going with my 1st instinct here).

I’ve always thought I wanted people to see past my disability, but do I really? Does seeing past disability mean that it doesn’t exist? If it does I don’t want what I always thought I wanted.

I used to think it was a compliment when someone told me they didn’t see my disability. These days I have 2nd thoughts.

I want to be seen as me “warts” and all; although I don’t see my disability as a “wart” (for the record).

Trying to not see someone’s disability, when it’s clearly visible, seems like a noble goal but it’s far from realistic.

If I’m going to go out with a group of friends “seeing past” my physical limitations can prove disastrous, both with and without my wheelchair.

The goal, for lack of a better word, for anyone and everyone is to be seen as who they are; not ignore or give any more attention to any part of themselves over another.

So are those with disabilities doing a bad job representing themselves if people forget that they have a disability? Is the able-bodied community overcompensating by telling people with disabilities that they don’t see their disabilities?

You may not need legs to run but you need to be seen as your whole authentic self in order to be successful.

Trust & Disability

Having a disability can create a whole host of trust issues, but I’m not going to talk about any of that. I’m sure plenty of people have said plenty on the subject already.

After an already full day and then hitting the gym I tried not to look like a hot mess (although I probably stank of airplane & gym sweat) I went down to the hotel lobby for something to eat. Knowing my history of stomach issues after a travel day I wanted something small so I settled for eating at the bar rather than a larger meal at the restaurant.

Typically I hang back and people watch before making my approach, especially if I’m in my wheelchair and I have to interact above eye level (like a bar). But I didn’t see anyone ordering or eating at any of the tables so I was on my own.

I ordered my food and told the server (or bartender?) that I’d be at a nearby table when she brought out my food I asked if I should her or at the bar when I was finished. She said something to the effect of, people usually pay when their food arrives, but it was OK because she trusted me.

I didn’t think anything of it in the moment, probably because I’d been running on fumes for hours, but then I thought about it.

She trusted me. Great.

But why?

(Call me a skeptic.)

I watched everyone around me while I ate my meal.

She didn’t seem to “trust” anyone else, nor did any of the other staff.

I couldn’t help but think (and still think) she trusted me because I have a disability; that I use a wheelchair.

Because someone in a wheelchair won’t even think of stealing, never mind actually do it (and full disclosure I did consider “forgetting” to pay when no one was looking just to prove a point, but I had no interest in going to confession the next day so I didn’t).

Someone in a wheelchair wouldn’t think of stealing; just like people with disabilities can’t possibly be attractive.

I’m sure no harm was intended on her part, and many people who read this will probably think I’m being oversensitive, but the reality is she’s been taught in some fashion to believe that people with disabilities are different than those who are able-bodied. And by treating me differently than everyone else who had a bill to pay she’s furthering the misconception that those with disabilities are “different” and/or “less than.”

I have news for you; people with disabilities are capable of stealing too.

We’re capable of a lot of things, just like the able-bodied.

We’re not all trustworthy.

We’re not all nice.

Some of us have left bills unpaid (intentionally and unintentionally).

Some of us can be rude.

Some of us are attractive.

Just like everyone else, because we like to include ourselves in the “everyone else” crowd.

It’s nice when someone extends a kindness towards another person, but if you won’t extend the same kindness to someone else, then please don’t. Everyone desires to be treated equally, regardless of ability.

If you wouldn’t trust an able-bodied person to pay a bill after the fact, for example, then don’t trust a disabled person (whatever your rationale for that might be). Also it’s not the best idea to go against company policy, if there is one, just in case you end up losing your job because you felt bad for someone who doesn’t need the pity.

Why I Remain Catholic

Maria Johnson suggested that those who attended her mastermind group at CNMC15, which I did, (in spite of the fact that I really wanted to run far away and hide until lunchtime) take on the challenge of answering, “Why do you remain Catholic?” which was asked by Elizabeth Scalia.

Why do I remain Catholic?

It’s one of those questions I’m always asking myself because there are plenty of reasons why I could (and probably should) walk away and never look back.

In fact I have walked away from the Church for at least a decade; actually looking back I wonder if I was ever “with” the Church until my 20s.

I’m a cradle Catholic but not a good one. I can’t even remember if I went to mass every Sunday growing up. I want to say yes, but I’m honestly not sure.

Regardless I went through the motions because I didn’t really understand any of it. There are a lot of people I could blame for that but I’m not going to, because what’s the point in doing that now.

In 5th grade I switched schools, to a Catholic school, and it all went downhill from there (to put in very nicely). It didn’t take me very long to figure out that if this was how Catholics acted I wanted no part of it.

In fact I went the extra mile and decided there was no God; because if God was in any way like anyone in my school I wanted none of that either.

Catholic schooling made me an atheist. I’m sure I’m not the only member of this group; however I may be one of the few that wondered back into the fold.

However I’m still not a fan of Catholic schooling, until the college and grad/post grad level. But that’s another post for another day.

So, why am I Catholic after being so severely scarred by Catholics (and the Catholic Church)?

The short answer is because I came to the realization that you can’t point out something that the Church can and should be doing better and just leave.

The first time I tried to change the Church I was in college (undergrad) and I decided I would focus all of my independent research on incorporating more art into catechesis. Because people just couldn’t wrap their minds around the idea that a Drama major would have even the slightest interest in theology and the Church.

It would’ve been easy to drop my research, maybe change my major and/or minor, and walk away from the Church (again).

In fact I was told to change my research, my major, and minor by several people (some of whom I respected highly and considered to be mentors) which could’ve caused me to walk away from the Church.

But I didn’t. In hindsight, I still can’t tell you if I was being stubborn or stupid or both.

I took a break from pursuing changing Catechesis as we know it, since 7 years of being a hardcore drama geek was slightly draining, and my (next, or real?) vocation fell into my lap.

After my latest surgery I had to pay attention to things I’d always struggled with but made due. The difference post-op was there was no “making do,” unless that meant never leaving the house, and even staying in home 24/7 required help.

Stairs and no ramp? Need to get someone to lift and carry me up the stairs, for example (and it really takes two people).

Where are the handicapped parking spaces? Are they clear of snow/debris/other cars?

The list goes on and on.

At some point a friend asked me if I was going to mass on Sunday. I told her “no” because parking was a pain and there was no place for me to be without being in everyone’s way during mass, of the subject of their pity stares and comments.

We talked about other options.

Going to another parish? It’s highly likely that I’d have the same issues just in a different location.

The Anointing of the Sick? A nice thought, but disability isn’t an illness that I need to get over. Yes, in this instance I was recovering but that wasn’t keeping me from attending mass, lack of basic access and a feeling of acceptance was. I wasn’t going to take up a ministers time just because I there wasn’t somewhere for me to sit safely during mass.

Eventually I went to the internet for answers (like most people do these days). I discovered that religious institutions, like the Catholic Church, are exempt from complying with the ADA.

However there were religious institutions that have complied with the ADA.

So why wasn’t/isn’t the Catholic Church one of them?

“Catholics are bad at tithing.”

“We don’t have the money.”

“We don’t have to comply with the ADA”

“We don’t have any disabled people who come to our church.”

“Complying with the ADA would destroy our building.”

“Catholics have the Anointing of the Sick for those who can’t attend mass.”

“We’re accessible; we just have a few stairs.”

“We have awareness services once a month.”

The list could go on and on.

Although these reasons appear to be completely valid reasons, and a true reality for a number of parishes, there are really just copouts to so many people with disabilities.

Attitudes need to change. The Catholic Church (as well as other faiths) needs to be more inclusive to the largest minority on the planet, because in the end everyone will suffer for it.

Why do I remain Catholic? Because nothing is perfect and no one is perfect and walking away because that’s the honest truth is just asinine, in my humble opinion. If you want change so badly then it’s a good idea to be part of that making that change, if not, sit down and shut up because you’re just complaining to hear yourself talk.

Blogging Against Disablism ‘15: The “Acceptable” ism

I’ve never been an expert on Disablism or Ableism and honestly I don’t want to become one either. I hope Ableism/Disablism is on its way out before I ever fall into the expert category (another “Hail Mary” of a goal).

But that doesn’t mean I don’t find myself talking about it a lot, and probably more than I should. A little over a month ago I was asked to give a presentation on ableism and how it can affect accessing services, whether from public or private sector.

I like to hope the end result (the presentation) was a success. It was for me personally, if that counts for anything. But the creative process involved in crafting such a presentation wasn’t a breeze; there were moments when it was the last thing I wanted to do (in fact I tried to get out of it once the panic set in).

How do I explain ableism to people who have never experienced it for themselves? Or worse, how do I explain it to people who may have experienced it and might not know it?

I did the most basic thing possible. I started with the definition, just to get everyone in the room on the same page.

But where do I go from there?

I could’ve told a bunch of stories of my experiences with ableism but that wouldn’t be very helpful on a grander scale. Disabilities are too vast and varied for one person to carry the load (thank goodness, I guess).

My next slide was titled “the ism that’s acceptable.”

Yes, I’m still shocked I wrote that, even sarcastically, almost 2 months later.

I wasn’t implying that ableism is acceptable, and I’m still not.

I did it for the shock value; to make an important point.

Ableism is so entrenched in society that even the disabled can’t always tell if/when they’re being ableist.

I catch myself doing it more often than I’d like to admit so I think it’s safe to assume I’m not the only one that falls into this trap.

I don’t often change my stance mid-conversation, and perhaps I should, but I will often replay different situations in my head to see if there was anything at all that I could’ve done differently. I’ll often talk to friends with disabilities about ableist moments, or rather whether something was (or was not) an ableist moment.

One of my biggest challenges when it comes to advocacy is finding a balance between not going all “angry cripple” over every possible thing and letting people “get away with” being ableist (which is hard in itself when you can’t even keep yourself from being an ableist on occasion.

Ableism is never OK no matter how common it is in everyone’s everyday life but putting an end to it is going to be harder than I anticipated. Thank God awareness of ableism is on the rise but ending it once and for all isn’t going to be easy, just like every other “ism” out there.

But one question is in the forefront of my mind.

How are we supposed to rid the world of ableism if even the disabled can be ableists?

Blogging Against Disablism Day, May 1st 2015

Self-Driving Cars! Problem Solved?

Now that I’ve told you that I don’t drive, and why, I figured it was as good of a time as any to dive into another driving related topic within the disability community.

Self-driving cars.

From what I’ve read it seems like most people are all for it when the technology becomes available. But someone please feel free to chime in and tell me differently, in fact I would be more than happy to find a group of people who aren’t all for self-driving cars.

I’m one of them.

It would make my life easier to be able to get myself wherever I wanted whenever I wanted, but I doubt it’s that easy; and even if it is, it shouldn’t be.

I’m not for self-driving cars for much of the same reason why I’m against auto-piloted airplanes.

And I may be listening to a little too much Airline Pilot Guy, when time permits, that has further influenced my stance on the auto-piloting of forms of transportation.

Think about it. Would you want to be on an aircraft with no pilot and/or first officer at the controls? Would you want to be on an aircraft with a pilot and/or first officer didn’t know what to do if there was a glitch or a system totally failed?

I wouldn’t.

Nor would I want to be responsible for a car that drove itself if something ever happened. I don’t even want anyone else on the road like that either for that matter.

What would happen if the computer driving your car malfunctioned in some way? You should still know how and be capable of driving a car (just like how pilots should be able to fly an aircraft without assistance).

Technology is great. But we shouldn’t expect it to do everything it possibly can for us. It may solve a problem but it creates others in the process, considering how quickly technology is developing without adequate safeguards from the get go.

Self-driving cars would solve the “driving issues” for the disabled and it would create a whole other host of issues, in my opinion.

I’m not happy that ableism veiled behind acceptable bureaucracy is keeping me from being able to get behind the wheel and not need to depend on others, but I’m not going to go all in on one of the few things that shows actual promise, because it’s just too good to be true on the surface.