Sometimes it slips Kristin Parisi’s mind that she’s disabled. After 25 years in a wheelchair—the result of a car accident when she was 5 years old—her means of transportation no longer registers as abnormal.
“It’s one of those things I forget—that I’m disabled—until someone tells me I am,” the 30-year-old public-relations executive says.
That reminder came in early April, when she left her office in Boston on a rainy day to meet an Uber she’d ordered on her phone. When the driver pulled up in his Mercedes sedan he took one look at her and said, “No, no, no.” He indicated her wheelchair. “That’s never going to fit in my car.” It would, Parisi replied—it fits easily into the trunk of her own compact car. After an extended argument, she gave up. She ended up getting a ride with a passerby and his teenage daughter.
A twice-weekly Uber customer of two years, Parisi was surprised by the slight. “The first incident was, I thought, a fluke,” she says. Two weeks later, she ordered another car on Uber. The woman behind the wheel again told Parisi her chair wouldn’t fit in the trunk. This time, Parisi didn’t take no for an answer. She says she loaded herself and her chair into the back of the car without help from the driver, only to receive an earful of abuse for the entire trip to the airport.
Parisi says the driver called her an “invalid” and said she “must not be a Christian” and needed to “develop thicker skin.” At the end of her ride, Parisi says the driver asked her if was going to give her a bad review. “I said, ‘It has nothing to do with bad review, it has to do with illegal practice,’” she says. “‘You have to understand what you’re doing is not only mean—it’s against the law.’”
The Americans with Disabilities Act was voted into law in 1990 to ensure equal rights and prevent discrimination of people with disabilities. Under the ADA, transportation providers are required by law to accommodate wheelchair users if the equipment can fit in their car.
But Uber has launched a war to make itself exempt from the anti-discrimination law.
In three ADA-related cases over the past eight months, in California, Texas, and Arizona, Uber has been slammed with lawsuits that allege the company discriminates against blind and wheelchair-using passengers. The suits demand Uber abide by the ADA, but Uber claims that because it’s a technology company, not a transportation service, it doesn’t fall under the ADA’s jurisdiction.
Lawyers for Uber wrote: “Defendants deny that Uber offers a taxi service or that Uber has a fleet of drivers.”
“This was the worst transportation experience of my life,” Parisi wrote in a complaint to Uber after her second ride. “I’m humiliated.” She was refunded and sent away with a $100 gift card, but has no plans to use it until Uber announces some changes. In her interactions, the company was apologetic, she says. But it’s not enough.
She says she told Uber, “You need to do something about this and do it publically. Say, ‘We see this as a problem and we’re not going to fight the public on this and do the right thing.’” Instead “what they’re doing is saying is, ‘We’re not a public service; the ADA does not apply to us.’”
An Uber spokesperson says the app “was built to expand access to safe, reliable transportation options for all, including users with visual impairments and other disabilities,” and the company’s non-discrimination policy “seeks to make transportation options available to all individuals.”
But activists say Uber and other ride-sharing applications like Lyft and SideCar, called Transportation Network Companies, have abused a gray zone they operate in between technology and transportation without clear federal regulation or oversight. The disability-rights movement is urging the courts and lawmakers to end the impunity.
“Uber’s arguments against [following the ADA] are the efforts of a private company to evade regulation, regulation which is there for the public good, regulation that other companies offering similar services for many years have always been required to comply with,” says Marilyn Golden, a senior policy analyst at the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund in Berkeley, California.
Uber is currently settling a suit brought by the National Federation of the Blind in California last September. The complaint outlines “systemic civil rights violations” committed by Uber against blind passengers who require guide dogs. It mentions 40 cases in which UberX drivers refused to pick up people with service animals, as well as instances of animal abuse, including one case where a woman’s guide dog was locked in the trunk of a car.
“Uber representatives often respond to these complaints by denying responsibility for the discrimination,” the filing reads. The practice, it continued, was a violation of both the ADA and state law, as Uber functions as a taxi service.
But Uber describes its drivers as independent contractors, and says it therefore is unable to control their actions. In its response to the complaint, lawyers for Uber wrote: “Defendants deny that Uber offers a taxi service or that Uber has a fleet of drivers.” It added that Uber does not have the legal or contractual duty to control compliance with the law.
In December, the U.S. Justice Department weighed in, urging the court in a brief not to throw the case out because the allegation “goes to the very heart of the ADA’s goals.” The judge obliged, denying Uber’s motion to dismiss the case in mid-April, and noting that the plaintiffs had a “plausible claim under the ADA and state law.”
As the DOJ notes, the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations for transportation outlines that the ADA doesn’t just apply to taxi services. The code’s wording says it “ensures that, while a public entity may contract out its service, it may not contract away its ADA responsibilities.”
Uber’s claim that it’s not a taxi company ties into an adjacent legal battle with its drivers that would force it to consider them as employees, rather than independent contractors. There’s a class-action suit playing out in California court. And mandatory driver training or other measures to prevent disability discrimination could imply its drivers are employees and undermine Uber’s ability to argue otherwise.
Instead, there’s a voluntary training where drivers are told they must serve customers with wheelchairs or guide dogs. Uber’s Code of Conduct notes that violating laws pertainig to transporting disabled riders “constitutes a breach of the parties’ licensing agreement.” And an Uber spokesperson says that reported discrimination typically ends with a driver’s suspension or deactivation.
When asked about the training its drivers receive, a spokesperson for Uber used strong wording, saying that the company informs its drivers “about their obligation to comply with ADA requirements.” Regarding whether or not Uber falls under the ADA’s jurisdiction, the spokesperson said that it could not comment “due to pending lawsuits,” and would not disclose the specifics of the suits it has been involved in.
States are also struggling to deal with companies like Uber and Lyft that exist outside the realm of regulation. Over the past few months, an act regulating transportation services has been introduced in at least a dozen state legislatures. But disability activists are concerned about a line it includes that they believe could exempt Uber from the need to comply with the ADA or confuse drivers about their responsibility to take wheelchairs that fit. It says: “If a transportation network company cannot arrange wheelchair-accessible transportation network company service in any instance, it shall direct the passenger to an alternate provider of wheelchair-accessible service, if available.”
In a public Facebook post addressing this bill’s introduction in Texas, Angela Wrigglesworth urged this be changed. “This is unacceptable to push aside legal and moral responsibilities to provide transportation for customers with disabilities,” she wrote. “I have just as much of a desire and a right to ride in a readily available, fare-friendly Uber vehicle as anyone else.”
Lawmakers are also urging for disability-focused regulations to be in place. In Massachusetts, the governor has introduced legislation to regulate Uber and Lyft as transportation services, and state Senator Thomas Kennedy, who is quadriplegic, has promised to submit a measure that would require a certain percent of cars be accessible to mechanized wheelchairs in each fleet.
Lawmakers in Connecticut are also working on regulations. “These companies need to be doing a much better job accommodating the needs of all people,” state Senator Ted Kennedy Jr. told The Boston Globe. “This issue is not going away. It’s a question of fairness and equality.”
Though the ADA doesn’t require drivers to accommodate motorized wheelchairs, ride-sharing programs may be contributing to a decline in the number of ramp vans.
Taxi services provide accessible vans in accordance to piecemeal local ordinances rather than a blanket federal law. With the rise in ride-sharing programs, disability activists note that drivers are leaving behind taxi companies with these ramp-outfitted fleets, and are instead taking their own cars on the road. In San Francisco, a quarter of the ramp taxis are sitting unused because of a lack of drivers.
“I get it, people are using their own cars,” Parisi says. “But even if [Uber] invested in a few—this is a company that just got a valuation of $50 billion—that would be a really great thing for a company to do. That’s a really great business decisions. I don’t think anybody’s asking for a handout.”
Last year, Uber launched UberWAV, which is partnering with drivers in nine cities who own their own wheelchair-ramp vans to serve those in mechanical chairs. Uber also launched a service called UberASSIST at the beginning of the year. It uses drivers who are specially trained to assist seniors and people with disabilities (though not including ramp cars) and is in the midst of setting up across the country. But activists are worried that the separate program for people who should be legally accommodated into the main car fleet under the ADA will segregate disabled users.
Eric Lipp, the executive director of the Open Doors Organization, a disability travel network, said he had the same initial thought. But he was convinced by a need to ensure people with disabilities would get preferred access to the specialized drivers, and has been consulting with Uber to develop the ASSIST program.
“I think that many in the community do not understand that Uber has nothing against access and the ADA,” says Lipp. “The big problem is that until the courts settle whether Uber is a software company or transportation company the disability community will just have to be patient and try to work with Uber, not against them.”
But Golden, with the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, doesn’t think Uber’s going far enough with the ASSIST program. “We would like to see something like a robust version of uberASSIST in locations where it’s not just a reaction to political pressure on Uber, but rather, to expand it to everywhere they operate because it should be done, politics aside,” she says.
When Kristen Parisi was in high school, she says another student in a wheelchair was told by the administrators that he had to arrange his schedule to adapt to parts of the campus that were handicapped-accessible. It was shortly after the ADA was put into law, and Parisi’s dad made the effort to inform this boy’s mother that the school was legally obligated to provide him with full access to any classroom.
“My dad would say, ‘If everybody did that, nothing would change for anybody, don’t you want it to be better for the next person?’” Parisi says of sharing her story. “That was such a lesson—if I can help someone else I’ve got to do it.
Josh Duggar Investigated For Molesting Five Girls Including Family Members As A Teen 19 and counting is that a tv show or his victim count?
New allegations based on a police report show that Josh Duggar allegedly admitted to sexually molesting at least one girl, and was investigated for molesting five, according to In Touch magazine.
In Touch magazine earlier this week broke the news that “19 Kids and Counting” star Josh Duggar, who today is also the executive director for Family Research Council Action, had been turned in to the police by his father, at the age of 17, over a sexual molestation incident.
But now In Touch reports that they have received a police report via a Freedom of Information Act request, and the details are far more reaching.
It’s important to note that this report involves several victims and their privacy and personal lives must be respected, and that these allegations come via In Touch magazine. It also involves the actions of a person who at the time was a minor. The New Civil rights Movement has not independently verified the information from In Touch.
“Josh Duggar was investigated for multiple sex offenses — including forcible fondling — against five minors,” In Touch reports today. “Some of the alleged offenses investigated were felonies. Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar were interview [sic] by the Springdale Police department on Dec. 12, 2006.”
The report says that James told police he was alerted in March, 2002 by a female minor that Josh — who turned 14-years-old that month — had been touching her breasts and genitals while she slept. This allegedly happened on multiple occasions. In 2006, Jim Bob told police that in July, 2002 Josh admitted to fondling a minor’s breasts while she slept. “James said that they disciplined (redacted, Josh) after this incident.” The family did not alert authorities.
In Touch adds that Jim Bob Duggar, Josh’ father, and church elders, “decided to send Josh to a ‘program [that] consisted of hard physical work and counseling.'”
He said the program was a “Christian program.” Michelle Duggar later admitted to police that Josh did not receive counseling and instead had been sent during that time to a family friend who was in the home remodeling business.
“The Duggars told police that Josh ‘apologized’ to the female minors and that they had ‘forgiven’ him,” In Touch notes.
The alleged victims all described a consistent scenario of Josh touching their breasts and genitals and later apologizing. They said Jim Bob was aware of the situation and did not go to authorities for more than a year.
The police report, which is 33 pages long, can be seen at In Touch.
TMZ reports the police “are about to destroy all the names and details surrounding ’19 Kids and Counting’ star Josh Duggar’s molestation case … after one of his alleged victims asked a judge to protect her identity.”
Neither TLC, the company that produces “19 Kids and Counting,” nor the Family Research Council, nor Duggar himself have made any public comments on these allegations.
Why does the world make the simple hard? Why do doctors have secretaries who act like the Cerberus the three headed dog that guards the gate to hell?
Why is it when the doctor tells you to call tomorrow to get the results the nurse puts on her other two heads and guards your results like her life depends on it and no matter how many times you tell her the doctor Ok’d it you hang up sans results.
You book airline tickets to Australia and you’re told to call the disabled travel office to confirm the travel with a wheelchair so you ring the number they give you and you get “welcome to Qantas booking would you like to make a reservation, you spend twenty minutes telling them you’ve already booked but they insist there is no disabled travel office and no one would have made such a claim?
The next day you get a call from Qantas “this is the disabled travel office why didn’t you call us”?
Finally after 17 years in new York and 7 in a wheelchair I have had enough, I want to as we say in Australia “go bush” So after a few years of searching online I found heaven, well a few thousand feet below it on the top of a mountain in New Mexico it’s only 5 acres but it’s mine.
We found an architect and we designed a house a large house a straw bale house but then it might take a year so what do we live in?
Someone suggested a tiny house and we found a company and we chose a house and all we had to do is pay and they deliver it.
But then they had a secretary and she put on her two heads and every time I call she acts like her life depends on keeping secrets and everything gets put on hold, and I’ve seen my piece of heaven in the morning were up at 7,500ft above sea level, were above the clouds and on a good day we can see hundreds of miles but not without my house, my little house so I can live on my piece of heaven.
All I need is for secretaries to have one head and to realize that her life doesn’t depend on whether or not she tells me my details, whether or not she tells me when my little house gets delivered to my land yes both are already mine I paid for them I just need for people to be people, to be compassionate, to care to simply do their jobs.
People ask me why I do so much for myself, why I don’t get a woman to help me clean or cook or do the washing or help me leave the house and the answer is simple because they don’t have my dream, my vision of freedom. It’s only when my vision meets my location will I truly be free. Only when the gate keepers are on the other side my gate on the other side of my piece of heaven and my gate is locked will I ever truly be free.
Below are some pics of heaven my version anyway.
London Chanel, 21, is at least the eighth transgender woman of color to be killed this year the United States.
London Kiki Chanel, a 21-year-old transgender woman, was stabbed to death in North Philadelphia early Monday, the police department told BuzzFeed News.
Raheam Felton, 31, “confessed to the murder” and is in custody, said Cameron Kline, a spokesperson for the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office. Felton, who allegedly stabbed Chanel multiple times, is charged with possession of an instrument of crime and murder. He is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on June 3 but does not yet have a lawyer, Kline told BuzzFeed News.
Authorities have not released charging documents or many details about the homicide, nor have they alleged a motive for the killing.
Chanel is the eighth transgender woman of color confirmed killed in the United States this year — a trend that anti-violence advocates have called an epidemic. And as in many of the cases, Chanel was misgendered in early reports.
“There has been an immediate outcry from the community who knew her,” said Nellie Fitzpatrick, director of the Mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs for the City of Philadelphia. “I was receiving reports from the community that the deceased was transgender and needed to be referred to appropriately as a woman with female pronouns.”
Raheam Felton is charged with murder. Photo courtesy Philadelphia Police Department
NBC10 initially reported, based on interviews with Philadelphia police, that the victim was a “man” stabbed inside a vacant North Philadelphia home.
“Her name was London Chanel,” one of the commenters on the article said. “Please correct the terrible reporting in this article immediately. Black trans women are already at extreme risk of violence, it doesn’t help to hide their murders by using the wrong names and genders in shoddy news coverage.”
Fitzpatrick said NBC10 apologized and updated the article to use female pronouns after she contacted the television station. Police, meanwhile, told her “any information or briefings from police headquarters would reflect the proper gender identity.”
Officer Leeloni Palmiero, a spokesperson for Philadelphia police, said officers in the media division did not know until Monday afternoon that Chanel was a woman. “In the course of the investigation, we were able to determine that was this was a trangender woman,” she said.
Police issued the following statement Tuesday describing their response: “On Monday, May 18, 2015, at 12:49am, 22nd District Officers responded to a radio call of a ‘Person with a Weapon,’ inside 22XX North Ingersoll Street. Upon arrival officers located the victim on the sidewalk outside the location suffering from multiple stab wounds. The victim was transported to Hahnemann Hospital and pronounced at 1:03am.”
“Society is finally beginning to recognize that trans women of color are victimized and murdered at astounding rates,” Fitzpatrick said. “We just have far too many individuals who are dying too young at the hands of violence.”
The seven other confirmed homicides of transgender women of color in the U.S. this year include: A victim using the name Papi Edwards who was shot Jan. 9 in Kentucky; Kristina Gomez Reinwald, who was found in her home Feb. 15 in Miami-Dade County; Penny Proud, who was shot Feb 10. in New Orleans; Taja Gabrielle DeJesus, who was stabbed Feb. 1 in San Francisco; Yazmin Payne, who was stabbed Jan. 21 in Los Angeles; Ty Underwood, who was shot Jan. 24 in Texas; and Lamia Beard, who died of gunshot wounds Jan. 17 in Virginia.
In addition to those killings, some also have questioned the gender identity of someone killed recently in Ohio.
We have the civil rights act to supposedly give Americans of color a basis from which to legally protect themselves against the inane cruelty of racism, we have the ADA which in its inception is supposed to protect the dis and otherwise abled from discrimination and slowly state by state we are getting gay rights to protect the LGBTQ community in a similar fashion, that’s the concept anyway.
Have you ever tried to engage legal representation to protect yourself under any of these federal laws?
Here’s the problem with our legal system
On the weekend we were invited to stay at an aussie girlfriends beautiful home one block from the long island sound to keep the birthday celebrations going for she who must be obeyed, we stayed Sunday and on Monday after getting up at almost lunchtime our friend suggested coffee at a midtown coffee shop in the small town she lived in.
During the previous days get together we had met many of our girlfriends friends and a couple were at the coffee shop during the coffee we started talking about trans discrimination and disabled discrimination during coffee and one American friend got very excited and started dialing a lawyer friend telling me she would get me justice? So we let her call, I spoke to a very excitable lawyer who said someone else would call me today, we’ll see I thought.
Well will wonders ever cease, today a lawyer called me and the annoyance started when I wasn’t allowed to finish a sentence, then in the middle of calling me (yes he called me) he put me on hold for 5 minutes. Then he wanted to know what had happened to me, I tried to tell him and he kept asking “but did you lose any money because of it?” and he said he’d talk to his partners and get back to me? We’ll see.
Two hours later he called me back and asked “have you been discriminated against in the last year? So I reeled off half a dozen times and he wanted to know could I get to some obscure shopping mall in long Island I said no, he wanted to know did I have any notes so I told him about this blog and he started on again about fiscal loss? I had enough and told him it’s not about the money it’s about the dignity when you’re forced to crawl off a plane because they refuse you a wheelchair or you’re told you can’t go to the bathroom because the hostess refuses to push the aisle chair or when you’re in and ER you hear the head nurse at change over ask” WHO’SE CARING FOR THE FAG IN BED 6?”
It’s about teaching these assholes I live in the same country, I am protected by the same constitution and bill of rights and I pay taxes so I have the right to equality and I have the right to not be forced to leave my dignity in a bottom drawer when I leave home” and he said I was preaching to the choir, to which I replied “the trouble is this choir only sings when moneys involved.
So I copied and pasted 5 or 6 stories from my blog that I thought relevant and while he was still on the phone his only response to a story about me being forced to sign a contract that my service dog had to be locked in a cage while staying at the Borgata was not “that’s terrible”, or “how horrible” but his only response to 6 separate breeches of federal law where my rights were trampled was ‘YOU SPELLED COMPLIANT WRONG, “ “DO YOU HAVE SPELL CHECK?”
So you can document hospitals calling you a fag, a resident at st Barnabas so incompetent I awoke when back then I was a pre op transsexual being wheeled into surgery for an abortion because the ob-gyn resident telling me my stomach pain was an ectopic pregnancy even though my file was marked in red M-F PREOP TRANSSEXUAL. I documented many other cases of discrimination but still all he wanted to know between cutting me off every sentence was two things
1/ but did you lose money?
2/ do you have spell check?
You see my Sicilian legal friend, I don’t want you to be the “choir”, I don’t want you to correct my English composition, I don’t want you to forensically go through my finances what I want is simple
ENFORCE THE LAW, THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT, THE LAWS GUARANTEEING EQUAL RIGHTS WHETHER I LOST MONEY OR NOT BECAUSE YOU KNOW TO WE THE FEW, WE THE PEOPLE OUR DIGNITY IS WORTH FAR MORE, OUR RIGHT TO BE GREETED WITH NOTHING MORE THAN “WELCOME TO THE BORGATA HERE’S YOUR ROOM KEY” OR WELCOME TO ST BARNABAS WHAT SEEMS TO BE THE PROBLEM” OR JUST SIT THERE MIA WE’LL HAVE THE CHAIR TO GET YOU SAFELY OFF THE PLANE IN JUST A MOMENT.
You see my consiglieri friend to the we the people the American society was built around when our rights were guaranteed money isn’t everything it’s the life liberty and pursuit of happiness part we value.
Former Gloucester soldier ‘evicted and forced to sleep in his car’
Former Gloucester soldier Steven Bateman has been kicked out of his home for keeping a dog which helps him cope with his battlefield trauma.
Steven Bateman suffers from severe post-traumatic stress disorder since serving with the Gloucestershire Regiment in Northern Ireland.
After a long struggle with the condition, he adopted a young huskamute – a cross between a husky and a malamute – about eight months ago which he says has given him a new lease of life.
Steven, 54, said his new companion has helped him lead a happier and healthier lifestyle but the joy was short-lived after Elim Housing said the animal breached his tenancy agreement at Manor Gardens in Barnwood.
He has since struggled to find a home for him and Koda who he says is perfectly well-behaved and friendly.
But despite his troubles, Steven said giving up Koda was simply not possible for him and he is scouring the county to find a place that will take them both on.
He said he is being supported by the Royal British Legion.
“I have been offered bed and breakfast, but the dog can’t come. It’s just no at an option,” he said.
“He is like my baby – you wouldn’t get rid of your children, would you?
“In October last year I decided to get Koda. Before I had him I was not getting out of bed and I was very depressed. He has helped me through so much. I am much healthier and happier with him around.”
Steven’s ordeal has left both of them stressed, with Koda struggling to eat but Steven hopes he can find a pet-friendly home soon.
“I would love to get a place where he is welcome,” he said.
“All of my former neighbours loved him and they knew he was not a problem and would come and make a fuss of him all the time.”
“I have been bidding for properties but many have up to 60 people on their waiting list.”
A spokesman from Elim Housing previously said it would not comment on individual cases but said ending a resident’s tenancy is a decison that is “not taken lightly”.
The housing association has not commented on Mr Bateman’s current circumstances.
A Florida hearse driver and a funeral director are out of a job after taking a coffee break on their way to an Army veteran’s funeral.
Rob Carpenter said he confronted the two when he spotted the hearse with the flag-draped coffin of 84-year-old Lt. Col. Jesse Coleman unattended at a Dunkin’ Donuts in New Port Richey. Carpenter then started taking photos and video because the driver did not seem remorseful about the incident, he told ABC News. The video went viral when Carpenter shared it with the Veteran Warriors group on Facebook.
The hearse was driving from Veterans Funeral Care in Clearwater to the service in Lecanto, which is less than 90 miles away. Veterans Funeral Care President Jim Rudolph said sometimes the drivers stop for bathroom breaks, but someone is supposed to stay with the vehicle at all times.
PHOTO: A hearse driver and funeral director have been fired after stopping for coffee on the way to a funeral.
During a military transport, however, the hearse is not supposed to make any stops, he said.
“When a car leaves the funeral home with a flag on it, it’s on a stage … and we’re in ceremony mode,” Rudolph said. “Going into buy a doughnut with a flag-covered casket in your coach was a terrible lack of judgement.”
Rudolph declined to comment on why the decision was made to fire, rather than suspend, the hearse driver and funeral director.
As many of my friends know my childhood was more like a nightmare than a dream, but the one saving grace was the sport lacrosse. My membership to East torrens Payneham lacrosse club in Adelaide South Australia saved my life, Characters with nick names like snake, Hagar, diffy, skates, pedro, clown, PJ and Beaver and jock bought me into the fold and taught me the greatest game on earth and made it clear with words and actions the club was a safe place.
Families like the Johnson’s the browns the scarvellis the Stevens the kestles and the vickerys were the backbone of the club they saved kids from the street like so many Fagan’s except we didn’t pick pockets we filled the pocket with lacrosse balls and ran the field proudly wearing the red white and blue. that was over 30 years ago and sadly snake has gone where great players go as have so many of my childhood heroes but Hagar is still around to tease us with his beautiful wife and daughter his greatest achievements and Charles manning an opposition player from another club is still a friend today. Not all of us made it but it wasn’t without a champion effort by our lacrosse home.
On days like today when I’m home alone, I would rather be at Vic browns bar drinking with pj and reliving glory days from great games past, eating a pasty from Mrs Kestle while trying to beat tony Carbone on pacman.
“there’s a grand old flag , a high flying flag, the emblem for you and for me,
the emblem of the team we love the team of the red and the blue”
And it goes on like the great all great memories do. They say cops bleed blue and soldiers green where ever I am its always red white and blue
Every time I turn on my computer or read a magazine (you remember them dead trees with writing on them) some fool is being “so inspired” by a brave disabled person?
To we the dis and otherwise abled finding us “such an inspiration” or being “so amazed” by the fact that we get dressed and leave the house and do the same stuff as everyone else is like treating us like a trained animal who does tricks and you can’t wait to show your friends.
When I was 12 I met a guy called Tim my sports club was sponsoring his trip to the Paralympics, yes he was amazing in the worked his ass off in his chosen field way not the got out of bed and dressed himself way. He went on to make Australia proud in a vast array of sports again not as a “poor disabled” but as an amazing Olympian period full stop.
As a small child I had a cousin Barbie she was born with the severest case of cerebral palsy the doctors had ever seen. She could nothing for herself but her IQ tested off the charts, she communicated with her eyes and emotions and those of us who loved her understood her.
Since I myself have become disabled and a wheelchair user almost 8 years ago I have met the most amazing people from a beautiful genius young woman with cerebral palsy whose chutzpah will kick your ass to prima ballerinas with wheels under their ass who can speak 12 dead languages and as many live ones perfectly who when the moment the dance begins moves with the grace of pavlova or dame Margot Fonteyn and you stop seeing the wheels and so many more great people who just get shit done and don’t complain and by the way are missing a limb or are paraplegic and they’re just a sample.
It’s ok to show the daredevils like wheelz fotheringham and otter bailey we have all heard of them because of their feats of daring do, or the Jesse bilauers who through their philanthropy make people’s lives so much better but remember there are a another couple of millions of us who just go to work we teach we run businesses we serve, we have families and we pay taxes and folks that is the real wow factor.
They do it, they don’t have any fanfare they do it because, well the shit just has to get done and it won’t do itself sound familiar? Yes they’re just like you they have bills they have people who depend on them and they take it seriously so next time you want to get excited about something don’t choose the dare devil doing the triple flip choose the father, the mother, the everyday family who despite the disability the diagnosis from birth live life to the fullest and get up every day and just get life done.
If there is one overused adjective to describe disabled people, it’s inspirational.
Let’s back up for one second.
I should mention that I’ve had cerebral palsy from birth, and I use an electric wheelchair for mobility purposes. My muscle tone, range of motion, and speech pattern are all significantly impacted.
Throughout my childhood and adolescence, I was called “inspirational” so many times that it became completely devoid of meaning. People who had five-minute conversations with me would call me inspirational without even asking my name.
Apparently, having a visible disability is all it takes to be considered inspirational, which is frankly a pretty low bar – not to mention arbitrary.
As an adult, my patience for that word finally evaporated.
What the hell does inspirational even mean in the context of disability? Why were people being so presumptive about our lives? And when everything boils down, isn’t it just another manifestation of ableist thought?
And if you haven’t thought through this stuff before, then let’s explore all of the reasons why you shouldn’t call disabled people inspirational.
1. It’s Insulting
This argument might raise a few eyebrows. Calling someone inspirational is supposed to be a compliment!
You often hear people refer to their close family members as inspirational – as personally responsible for inspiring them to do something.
Obviously, calling someone inspirational isn’t offensive in itself. However, it can easily become insulting when it’s applied to someone with a disability.
When an able-bodied person calls a disabled person inspirational, they’re usually applauding them for existing – and in turn, patting themselves on the back for realizing how difficult disabled life must be.
Unsurprisingly, these good intentions can quickly create highly unfortunate implications.
For example, a man once exclaimed to me, “Whenever I feel sorry for myself, I think about you! If I were in your situation, I wouldn’t be able to get out of bed!”
Using disabled people as a negative comparison to comfort yourself about your own circumstances indicates that you view those with disabilities as tragically prevented from achieving any meaningful quality of life.
It’s basically the “I’d rather be dead than disabled” sentiment disguised as respect.
Our daily lives are not yours to cherry pick for teachable moments or perspective on whatever you don’t like about your life.
Don’t pity us as a source of self-motivation. If you want to motivate yourself, buy a cat poster.
2. It Reduces People with Disabilities to Their Disabilities
The problem with being called inspirational is that it attempts to make our disability our defining characteristic.
If people fixate on how inhibited they think disabled people are, the emphasis shifts to our obstacles rather than our achievements. Again, this perpetuates the myth of the impossibility of success and contentment while disabled.
Of course, that idea couldn’t be further from the truth. It should go without saying that plenty of disabled people have professional careers – just like anyone else.
However, I hesitate to put those who have achieved professional success on a pedestal – not because they don’t deserve recognition, but because I want to avoid only praising those who transcend negative disability stereotypes.
The image of the introverted disabled person who depends on government benefits is a sore spot for many of us, but that doesn’t make those individuals inferior.
Whether a disabled person’s idea of success is climbing the corporate ladder or organizing their caregivers to ensure their comfort throughout the week, we all have different accomplishments that should be celebrated.
Our disabilities presents certain challenges, but it’s important to remember that we’re people first and foremost.
3. It Reduces Children with Disabilities to Spectacles for Able-Bodied Adults
Children are the obvious logical choice to be figureheads for the popular image of disability because people are unfortunately much more likely to care about disability if it’s presented as endearing.
But as I discussed above, it’s important to remember that children with disabilities are people, too. Even more crucially, children are highly impressionable and often much more perceptive than adults give them credit for.
For example, I went to an overnight summer camp for children with disabilities every summer for ten years, starting when I was just eight years old. They would often invite various charitable groups to entertain us. The adults would fawn over us and gush about how we were so adorable and inspirational.
I remember being frustrated because I felt like they weren’t actually interested in what I liked or what I had to say. At times, it felt like we were their toys.
Disabled children are more than just the feel-good segment at the end of anews broadcast. Able-bodied adults should support and encourage them to achieve their dreams as individuals.
4. It Infantilizes Disabled Adults
On the flipside, calling a disabled adult inspirational almost always comes off as patronizing. Seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever had it said to me in a way that didn’t read as condescending as hell.
We don’t need you to be our cheerleaders, telling us that we’re doing a good job existing. Most of you have no idea what we’ve been through or accomplished, so it’s insulting that you would belittle our lives based on superficial judgments.
Unless the disabled person is your close friend, avoid calling disabled adult inspirational altogether. I know you think you’re doing a nice thing, but it only makes you look ignorant.
5. It Prevents Disabled People From Developing Real Relationships
In a similar vein, when you tell someone with a disability that they’re inspirational, you’re sending the message that the only thing you’ve gained from meeting them is a cursory perspective on disability.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been hitting it off with someone, and then they break out the I-word, and my excitement does a complete nosedive.
In that moment, you’ve let me know that you’ve already judged me by my disability – and moreover, you’ve determined that that judgment should supersede any other potential knowledge you could learn about me.
I try and approach every interaction with the intention of getting to know a person, whereas able-bodied people tend to approach interactions with disabled people by having one foot out the door from the start.
If there’s one thing I wish I could teach able-bodied people, it’s that just because someone’s disability might be the most prominent thing you notice about them physically, it has no bearing on everything else they’re able to offer.
Above all, able-bodied people need to stop treating disabled people like objects for their amusement or personal philosophical enrichment. Your perception of us does not accurately define us because you’re not giving us a chance to represent ourselves.
Take a second and genuinely listen! Who knows, maybe you’ll get along well with each other!
Disabled people deserve real and meaningful friendships and relationships. Don’t jeopardize that by writing them off before you even know them.
6. It Presumes a Knowledge of Disabled Life That You Don’t Actually Have
Most of the people who call me inspirational are strangers or casual acquaintances. Do they have enough information to make that assessment? Probably not.
That’s also why I never understood how everyone can be so quick to assume that all disabled people must be inspirational simply because they’re disabled.
I know I sound like a broken record, but people with disabilities are just like everybody else. They’re complex and sometimes flawed. They hide insecurities and struggles and inner demons that they might not want the outside world to see.
We are not perfect, angelic human beings by virtue of having a disability. Life just doesn’t work that way, and you can’t pigeonhole us as brave or permanently optimistic or whatever innocuous stereotype helps you process our disabilities better.
You shouldn’t claim to know anything about disabled life if, to begin with, you don’t know even the person you’re talking to!
7. It Fails to Account for the Importance of Individual Experiences with Disability
One of the most corrosive effects of all of the implications and connotations of being called inspirational as a disabled person is that it unfairly renders the entire disabled community one-dimensional, with all of us facing the universal hurdle of somehow managing to exist while disabled.
The reality is much more complicated.
Disability encompasses an incredibly broad spectrum of conditions and impairments. Even people with the same diagnosis and the same symptoms can have lead to very different lives.
A wheelchair user who lives out in the country will have a different perspective than a wheelchair user who lives in the city. Similarly, a person with a disability born to wealthy parents will have a radically different childhood as compared to a disabled person born to poor parents.
Having a disability puts us in the same community, but it doesn’t make us all the same. Suggesting that all disabled people are inspirational just because we’re disabled robs us of the cultural and socioeconomic contexts that have created and continue to foster our diversity.
Such diversity should be acknowledged. We all have varying experiences with disability and that needs to be respected.
Instead of claiming disabled people inspire you, appreciate them for their uniqueness and individuality.
Avoid the temptation to turn us into abstract symbolism. We might be inspirational to you, but at the end of the day, we’re three-dimensional human beings like everyone else.