Sunday, April 25, 2010

I've Gone and Done it Now

I have written a manifesto. It's short as manifestos go... and I think fairly low on scary ramblings (edit, edit, edit!!! :)

Here it is:

I believe in the Disability Rights Community.

That is to say, I believe that disability is a natural part of the human experience that is often misunderstood by our culture and I believe in the people with disabilities and their allies who recognize that human beings are undiminished by disability. I support these people who strive for respect, recognition and rights.

We are a minority--there are very few of us.

We are extraordinarily diverse--in diagnosis, in capacity, and in interests. A linear approach where we will all take the same steps at the same time is not for us.

Yet I believe.

I believe because there is an ADA and an IDEA--there wasn't always.

I believe because the Paralympics exist--and any gets televised. More than last time (and there will be more next time, if we work on it.)

I believe because the Community Choice Act, the CLASS Act and Medicaid are all discussed in our nation's capitol.

I believe because I have seen kids and adults speak up for better treatment--for respect.

Because disability advocates met in the White House

Because movements started by people like Ed Roberts and Justin Dart continue against the odds.

There is Closed Captioning and Assistive Tech and Dragon Naturally Speaking and voice output apps for iPhones.

Do I think any (or all) of these things are ENOUGH? Are we DONE??? Have we created the situation where people with disabilities have a fair shot at a decent life throughout our land??

Umm, no.

Can I follow, jump into and address every single disability related issue? Do I even want to?


But I believe. And if your work advances the understanding that ALL people with disabilities are complete human beings and full citizens NOW (not once they've jump throught some normalizing hoop), I claim that we are on the same team.

So, if you encourage moms, parent your own babies (or teens, or adults), train youth leaders, promote sports, take on the bioethicists or the lawmakers or health practitioners... (or if you are one of these!)

If you try to to improve the lives of people with disabilities one word at a time, one conversation at a time, one story or history at a time, one potluck at a time, or one protest at a time....

If you promote equity, understanding and inclusion through activism, authoring, through caregiving or on the airwaves...

If you focus on children, or teenagers, or adults or the elderly, or parents, or professionals... advocate, self-advocate, or allies...

If you work with acquired or lifelong diagnoses, if your issues are cognitive or mobility, or illness related, or if you know most about blindness, or paralysis, or amputations, or deafness, or autism, or aging--or something else entirely, I AM FOR YOU.

If you advance functiion or philosophy or legislation... from within systems or against systems...

Or any combination thereof...

I believe in you and in what you are doing!

We may never be unified, but we can unite. And where I can unite with you I will.

The world IS different for people with disabilities today than it was even 10 years ago. While our approaches may never be the same you will NEVER hear me say that you are wasting time, I will not minimize your efforts or concerns. You won't hear me call your work PC or useless. We may not always have the same priorities, but we will find ways to work together.

I am proud to be on your team and I applaud the work you are doing in this world!

That is all.

(See my blogroll for examples of all of these types of advocates!)


Anonymous said...

And where I can unite with you I will.

I have not read it said better, Terri.

On your team, Barbara

Anonymous said...

Right there with you! Eloquently stated and oh so true. Happy to be aboard mate!

Terri said...

Glad to be in this together, Ladies!

Never That Easy said...

Fabulous manifesto... I particularly liked the "and where I can unite with you I will", since so often (especially in the take no prisoners blogosphere) we forget that it isn't just a bunch of separate/competing groups who are advocating for their own specific issues, but that when one group is advanced, it helps the whole community.

I am so on board!

Terri said...

Great NTE! I agree with you. People sometimes believe we must all be the "same" or we are "enemies." I think it is time for a broader belief!