Disability Representation

Disability has a negative connotation that extends beyond its definition, which includes impairments, activity limits, and participation restrictions. Disabled people’s attitudes and the degree of social exclusion they experience are manifested in actions that vary greatly depending on the kind of impairment and various social, community, and familial factors. The impact of an individual’s position, as well as the type and degree of his or her handicap, and, in particular, his or her gender, can be tremendous.

People with Disabilities have been fighting for their right to be heard, both in their own lives, as well as in the greater community. This fight continues to this day, and I want to bring their voices and needs to the forefront. Having direct input in one’s life has a clear effect on overall health, well-being, and quality of life.

People don’t come with labels.

‘You don’t look ill’! Just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. A diagnosis should never define anyone.

The skills of handicapped individuals are generally undervalued in society.

Why is the wheelchair the only emblem used to represent disability?

This gives a distorted view of disability. We need self respect and mutual respect.

Wheelchair Privilege

It is hard to acknowledge our own privilege because privilege is the other side of oppression. Some people are against talking about privilege because they don’t want to be framed as the aggressors or complicit in a system that gives them an advantage at the expense of others. Other critics of the word ‘privilege’ mistake it for a blanket term that suggests that, if you have a privilege, your whole life has been easy.

Ultimately, privilege is not a concept designed to make people feel guilty or to diminish their achievements. Instead, waking up to how you may have certain privileges is an essential first step towards being able to decisively act, in small and large ways, to use your privilege and make the systems we were born into fairer. One example of this is wheelchair privilege.

For example, some taxis are only equipped for manual wheelchairs, not electric ones. The physically impaired may be entitled to more benefits than any other disability group.

In order to use your own privilege for good and to be a good ally you have to be aware, listen and speak up. Focus on equity instead of equality so that everyone is given what they need to be successful. https://www.hivelearning.com/site/resource/diversity-inclusion/5-main-types-of-privileges/

What about the speech impaired?

Just because you can’t speak doesn’t mean you don’t have anything to say. The Purple Vote Campaign in Wales is good at doing this. Advocating for yourself is important. Speak with me, not for me!

Freedom of speech

Article 21 – Freedom of expression and opinion, and access to information

People with disabilities should be able to exercise the same rights to freedom of expression and information as other people and through all forms of communication of their choice. The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) also protects freedom of expression and the right to information. https://www.article19.org/resources/disability-and-information-what-are-your-rights/#:~:text=People%20with%20disabilities%20should%20be,and%20the%20right%20to%20information..

States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that persons with disabilities can exercise the right to freedom of expression and opinion, including the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas on an equal basis with others and through all forms of communication of their choice, as defined in article 2 of the present Convention, including by:

a) Providing information intended for the general public to persons with disabilities in accessible formats and technologies appropriate to different kinds of disabilities in a timely manner and without additional cost;

b) Accepting and facilitating the use of sign languages, Braille, augmentative and alternative communication, and all other accessible means, modes and formats of communication of their choice by persons with disabilities in official interactions;

c) Urging private entities that provide services to the general public, including through the Internet, to provide information and services in accessible and usable formats for persons with disabilities;

d) Encouraging the mass media, including providers of information through the Internet, to make their services accessible to persons with disabilities;

e) Recognizing and promoting the use of sign languages. https://www.un.org/development/desa/disabilities/convention-on-the-rights-of-persons-with-disabilities/article-21-freedom-of-expression-and-opinion-and-access-to-information.html.

The colour purple is used to represent the disabled community because it means royalty, status and importance.

Purple Tuesday and the Purple Pound are business initiatives to improve customer service for people with disabilities.

Paralympic Games is a global sports competition for people with disabilities. It is a modified version of the Olympics for people with disabilities. Highlighting abilities and maximising potential.

International Day of People with Disabilities showcases wheelchair access, history of disability in education, disabled icons, disabled political figures and celebrates diversity. Celebrated on 3rd December every year, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and to mobilise support for the dignity, rights, and well-being of persons with disabilities. Each year the day focuses on a different issue.

Advocacy

Advocacy includes speaking up on other people’s behalf. This could also cover unemployment amongst people with disabilities.

‘Disability equals diversity not disadvantage.’

We should be accepted without having to ‘fit in’.


Tips for Advocacy

  • Be Persistent
  • Build Effective Coalitions

Self-Advocacy Skills

  • Be assertive vs Aggressive
  • Be direct
  • Be intentional
  • Be accurate
  • Healthcare
  • Relocating
  • Emotional Needs- Social Isolation

Advocacy usually includes petitions, protests, lobbying, placards, propaganda, elections, party politics, and pressure groups. Being an advocate makes you an agent of change.

The importance of rejecting society’s toxic value system

It’s about dignity. This is important especially when fighting microaggressions. https://www.bustle.com/articles/186060-13-microaggressions-people-with-disabilities-face-on-a-daily-basis.

At the heart of it, representation matters because people matter. Disabled persons exist in every nation and community across the world. It is essential that we respect human rights for all humans no matter their abilities or disabilities.

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About Daniella-Jade Lowe

Hello, My name is Daniella Jade Lowe. I am a PURSUN researcher and I am working on marketing myself as an Accessibility Consultant. Journalism and Politics are my passion. I have a BA degree in History and Politics. What type of disability do you have? At birth, I was diagnosed with Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus which are neurological conditions. As a result, I use a wheelchair for mobility. What is disability to you? The only disability is a bad attitude. I have a disability. It doesn’t completely define me; it just enhances me in a way which differentiates and strengthens me. My disability should be viewed as an ability: to see the world in a different way. I don’t really like the term because sometimes it indirectly implies someone is dysfunctional or helpless. The most important thing is to never make assumptions. Someone with a disability can be very, physically, fit and strong, highly intelligent and articulate. What has been your experience from the time you remember till now? - positive and negative experiences. My life as a wheelchair user has been generally okay. Wheelchair Accessibility is frustrating. I was teased a little in school. Other than that, life is great. How do you cope with: -daily activities - your disability, do you have times when you are down - people's reactions towards you. I have carers, a Social worker, District Nurses, a GP, and extended family in this country. I am also in contact with a local disability charity in Yorkshire. I also have a friendly landlord. How do you keep yourself motivated? I must stay organised and practice good time management. I also prioritise my plans. What is your word or advice - to those with disabilities? - to the society Don’t let people put you in a box. You have a voice, use it. 10. Tell us about your platforms if you have any- Blog: The View from Where I Sit Facebook: Daniella Jade Lowe Instagram: @daniellajadelowe/@theviewfromwheresitblog Thank you!