One of the interesting things about “disability pride” is that for people who don’t actually have it, it probably seems like kind of a feeble, made-up attempt to turn lemons into lemonade. I used to think that, myself. I never really felt bad about my disability, but the idea of showing it, embracing it, or celebrating it seemed almost nonsensical to me.
One of the first ways I began to understand a different view was through observing how a lot of disabled people come to see their wheelchairs, crutches, and other assistive devices as more than just tools. I experienced it myself when I used a scooter throughout college and graduate school, and in the same period started using a ventilator at night to help me breathe. I never felt stigmatized by them, and soon I started to feel grateful for them almost like one is grateful to a person. Seeing my scooter or my ventilator after being away from them for a bit made me feel comfort, like I was coming home in a sense.
As I met other disabled people, and got to know some of them online, one thing thing that the happiest, most independent of them had in common was an intimacy and sense of fun about their devices. I don’t know which comes first though. Do you come to embrace and love your wheelchair because you embrace and take pride in your disability identity? Or, does incorporating a wheelchair into your look and personality help you accept and embrace your disability?
This isn’t quite the same discussion “That Crazy Cripple Chick” is having, but what she’s writing about here is closely related, and it is a great starting point for someone who, for whatever reason, can’t seem to view assistive devices with anything but sadness, disappointment, or fear.
Disability life, ideas, identity, culture, commentary, and politics.