[Panicking because storage auction is on Thursday and I desperately need the full 1400 to cover it and save it from auction. Please share and spread the word.]
Today, when I arrived at Central City Concern’s EAC (Employment Access Center), my case manager asked for my opinion on something. See, they’ve adapted some access points of the center to accommodate disabled folks like me, but it’s an older building and they haven’t gotten everything. They do have a small single wheelchair elevator to go down to the basement workspace, and the front door has an automated button system, but to access the computer area off the lobby, there are two steps up. And then three steps up to get to another area. I have a walker (while I love my cane, when it comes to back injuries, walkers are better because you aren’t contorting your body to use it).
So he asked me what I would suggest. I told him that small ramps could replace the steps and that they might have to be a little longer than the steps take, but it would be more ADA compliant. He had me write this up on a suggestion form and he turned it in.
Why have I mentioned this? Because hearing the opinions and voices of those who aren’t part of the norm of society is something that doesn’t happen often. Since I first hurt my back at 17, I’ve seen and experienced a disconnect from society. We are either invisible, dismissed, second class citizens… you name it.
And it sucks.
For years, even up until about 6 or 7 years ago, I wouldn’t consider myself disabled. I had my back injury and countless other injuries and health issues, but I rarely classified myself as disabled. In part because of how I was treated at 18 at the first community college I attended. They were horrendous to disabled students. Being kicked out of music classes, dismissed for needing assistance, you name it. Their DSRC was a joke. A tiny office barely big enough to hold two desks. No testing areas, nothing. The frustration was palpable.
I now live in Portland, which has a sizable disable population. I now own the label. With my back getting reinjured (twice) and more and more injuries and such added to the list (along with mental health fuckery), I have come to accept the label as part of who and what I am. But just because I’m in a city with a large disabled population, doesn’t mean everything is wonderfully accessible.
There are many apartment buildings and houses I could never live in. Too many stairs and no accessibility. Granted, if I ever had the money to buy a house, I’d hopefully be able to remodel it for accessibility. I can climb occasional stairs as needed, but I couldn’t live somewhere with lots of them.
My case manager asked me today because I had my walker. Because I have to lift it up to get past those two or three steps. If it isn’t loaded down, which it usually isn’t, then that’s okay. Anything more than what I had today would be too much weight.
One other area, and I may expand on this another time, is how the equipment we use is not treated properly. Service Dogs are the main focus with this issue. SD’s are there to help their handlers function within society’s parameters. My PTSD is easily triggered by a person, usually male, sitting or standing too close to me. Having a trained dog with me would help assure that space around me would be maintained for my mental healthiness. Same for other working dogs. They are working, helping their handlers gain their independence from other people. Freedom to do things others find normal, easy tasks without the need for a person to always be there to help. That’s all anyone asks.
But there are far too many people claiming their untrained pet dogs are SD’s, when they are not. There are a number of reasons these are a bad idea. They can show aggression toward other dogs, even Service Dogs, attacking them or humans. This can potentially ruin an SD and this then restricts the freedom once again of the handler. Again, I may likely expand on this in it’s own post.
Our society has long dismissed those who are disabled (among other groups). We typically aren’t seen as equals who can contribute just as much to society as able-bodied/minded people can. Sure there have been some outliers such as Stephen Hawking, but he was known in his field before he was diagnosed with ALS. But for many of us, we are seen more as a burden on society.
All we want is to be treated as equals and be given the chance to contribute to society like everyone else.