People ask me, “What are you trying to do? Do you want special things done for you just because you are disabled?” Or, “I am so sorry to see you disabled, you poor thing. How awful that must be. We are so sick and tired of having to do special things for special people. Just get over it and stay home where you belong.” You don’t understand. Wheels give us mobility, a chance to do and go where we want to and when we want to. Freedom.
Guess what? We who are disabled are tired of staying home, tired of being left out, tired of being expected to make do with what we have and tired of demanding that others obey the law that has been in effect for 25 years, one quarter of a century.
For years we were expected to live in the back of the house, shut-ins they called us. And the minister or priest came to call every month or so when he could fit us into his schedule. We worked in sheltered workshops for pennies an hour and were expected to be happy that we got that much. All the while, we sold things that were donated, suffered in poverty while the directors of the organizations got millions in salaries and bonuses. After all, look what they gave us. They thought that work that paid 10 cents an hour was supposed to make us feel worthy and enjoy the dignity of work. Those days are gone. Long gone.
We are now working people, lawyers, doctors, teachers, librarians, Stephen Hawking is one of us. So was Helen Keller and so many more. No longer must we endure terrible living and working conditions.
So, does that mean we want to have special treatment because we need different ways to get in a building, to drive a car or to cross a street. No, we don’t. Here’s what we want. To be treated Exactly. Like. Everyone. Else. That’s all.