Saturday, December 05, 2015

More than equal...

I was talking to someone yesterday, explaining a little of what it is like to be a person living with a disability.

In this day and age, people feel they very aware. Political correctness has found its stride and we are ablaze with righteous anger over the way women are treated in society, and over the plight of asylum seekers - and as an extension, all people of colour. We are up in arms over the destruction of the rain forests, and the consumption of palm oil, and the threat to orang-utans, and bees, and whales (you should have seen the looks I've gotten over my carrying a seal skin bag - ask me about it, I'll explain to you why I bought it).

Yes, we're becoming very aware and it is benefitting many.

The introduction of NDIS is one way to acknowledge the people living in our society who live with a disability, but it actually doesn't recognise the micro-prejudices we live with every day. I just saw this video and it says a lot.

The reactions of the 'able bodied' people in this video show the kind of prejudice people living with a disability encounter every day. It is the assumption that we 'can't do as well'. The shock that someone with a disability should not only be 'as good' but actually 'better than'... That is the prejudice.

Being viewed as 'as good' comes at a high price for people with a disability. To be consider 'as good' we actually have to be 'better than'. If we perform at the same level as 'able' people, making the same level of mistakes, or having slow days, then that is put down to our disability. Where there is a certain amount of leeway given to a new employee in a new workplace, the person with a disability knows they can't screw up because if they do, the employer will immediately second-guess their decision to take on 'A person with a disability'.

We are defined by our disability as soon as people know. We are no longer 'just another person', we are 'a person with a disability'.

And, it is a sword which cuts both ways. If we insist on being considered 'just another person', then we cannot ask for consideration with regard to our needs as a person with a disability.

Now, you may be thinking 'You can't have your cake, and eat it, too. You can't want to be treated like just another person and then ask for special treatment because of your disability!'

Well, why not?

All the other 'just another person' people constantly ask for special consideration because they're short, or fat, or have kids, or are still learning the language, or are new to this place, or don't eat meat, or didn't get much sleep last night... A myriad of reasons 'just another person' people ask for special consideration - and get it without having their suitability for all that is life questioned.

As I said to this person, I have never had a proper job, despite knowing I'm very capable. I have to work harder every day just to keep up and then I have to work some more just to prove I'm as good as 'just another person' - it is exhausting. As hard as any 'just another person' as ever work to get where they are, I can assure you I have worked harder. People who know me know that when I decide to do something, I get somewhat one-eyed about it (pun fully intended). I'm as dedicated as it gets, but I'm also just human and I pay for my dedication with migraines, insomnia, anxiety, seizures, and sometimes, suicidal depression. As I said, it is exhausting.

The side affect of this is that I have become very sensitive about being viewed as 'just another person' especially when I have to ask for special consideration so I can function to my full potential. My full potential is pretty bloody awesome - I'm sure I'd surprise a lot of people!

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Good Job!