Did you know you have a 31%-54% chance of becoming disabled between the ages of 30 and 50?
I was born with a disability. I have cerebral palsy, and I am an amputee and a wheelchair user. I have always been disabled; it’s my life and will be my life forever. It’s all I have ever known so it’s nothing new or shocking or even inspiring. It is my every day. I think what people fail to realize about themselves and disability as a whole is that anyone at any age can become disabled. It can be a physical disability where you’re left becoming a wheelchair user or using other forms of mobility equipment. It can even be an invisible disability like chronic pain, anxiety or PTSD. The perfect example I can give is my mom. She went back to work for six weeks in 2005, got hurt and has been disabled ever since. Just like that, her life changed forever.
I think what bothers me most about society and its lack of understanding of disability is the fact that a lot of able-bodied people can never see themselves as having some type of disability, even though it could be a possibility in the near future. I think if more people came to that realization, we could start to have an honest and real conversation about what it’s like for those of us within the disability community. We could discuss important issues like the lack of accessible jobs, apartments, etc. If able-bodied people recognized the struggles of those with disabilities could one day affect them, maybe we would see some necessary changes.
I am not saying I wish for people to become disabled. I am just saying more people need to be willing to adapt their mindset from “I couldn’t imagine if this happened to me. I don’t know what I would do” to “This could be me or someone I know one day. How can we make things better and more accessible now to make things easier in the long run for future generations of disabled individuals?” It’s important to remember that able-bodied individuals may have never had to advocate for certain things to make their daily lives easier.
My advice to those people who believe this could never happen to you: listen, learn, educate yourselves, and please don’t assume that disability will not happen to you. The reality is it can. The question is, are you ready for a world that isn’t made for people like me? If not, how are you going to fix it? Having a disability can affect even you or those you know and love.