“A few years ago I was discussing with a disabled person how I should refer to people who weren’t disabled – “non-disabled” seems like a double negative, “abled” sounds daft and does not feel like a fair description of most people (I don’t feel particularly able). She replied that the term she used was “the not yet disabled” which is funny, but also incredibly revealing.
It was a bit of a “mote falling from the eyes” moment for me I remember. If we don’t die suddenly we are all going to gradually become more and more disabled, so you’d think that self interest would make us all anxious to fight for equality for those with disabilities or at least improve disabled access and increase the numbers of disabled toilets.
But just because we are unable or unwilling to envision our own gradual demise we pretend it’s someone else’s problem. Just pretend you’re going to be young and mobile forever and that there’s no danger of you being in an accident or getting a disease – as long as the money had been freed up to ensure you get your bins collected every week then all is cool with the world (though aren’t you able to dispose of your own rubbish? What’s wrong with you? That’s the kind of lazy service that all those people you imagine are claiming disability allowance would need isn’t it?).
Does something actually have to happen to us before we can start thinking of the world from another’s perspective? I guess it does.”
I say I am not yet disabled, but that’s not wholly true. There is my special colour vision, which means I mainly wear black and I cannot be trusted to buy paint, and my special brain which means I nuture intense mono-interests and can’t be sent to buy a coffee from a shop without a set list of what to ask for.
Luckily for me society isn’t set up to work against me and my specialness, so by my terms I’m not-yet-disabled.
If you are a straight, youngish, caucasian, physically and mentally healthy, English-speaking male then well done! It’s not an achievement though, don’t clap yourself too hard on the back, but society has been mainly designed around you. You’ve got it made! For now.
But just remember, you’re not yet disabled.
EDIT: I’ve just remembered this is the Internet and according to WordPress stats this blog has been read by at least one person on every continent. When I mention how society is mainly built around the assumed “norm” of a Caucasian male is, it is typed in this particular country at this particular time. Where-ever you are, it might be a different set of characteristics. The irony of me assuming one perspective as the norm has not escaped me.
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