“It really gets to me,” said my son, checking his phone as I was putting his socks on. “What does?” “Words… stuff like this…” He read me a passage from social media. I immediately saw what he meant. It was story about a little girl with a beautiful voice. It was a touching enough tale, […]
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Okay everyone, change of plans. Since the topic of love and relationships seemly did not generate much interest or conversation I am going to delay posting on the subject.
Instead, I am putting the power in your hands! Tell me, what topics should we be discussing here? What are the most pressing issues facing the disabled community? What keeps you up at night? What gives you hope?
Come talk with me! Project Speak can be great but I can’t do it without you.
Before I weigh in with Thursday’s blog post I would love to hear from you…How do you define love? Has living with a disability impacted the way you think about love and relationships(romantic or otherwise)?
Something fun on a crappy winter day!
People have a tendency to not expect much from disabled people…try telling that to these guys.
1. Albert Einstein(Autism Spectrum)
You know your awesome when your name is a synonym for genius.
2. Thomas Edison(Deafness/Hearing Loss)
Face it we’d be living like apes without this guy.
Best President ever PERIOD.
4. Charles Dickens(Epilepsy)
Christmas without Dickens…not OK!
5. Julius Caesar(Epilepsy)
Do I really have to spell it out?
So next time someone underestimates you channel these guys, then go kill it.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that frightens us most…” Marianne Williamson in A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of a Course in Miracles
The sentiment of the above quote is beautiful, and I hope that every person has at least one experience that leads them to believe that it is true. However, if someone were to tell me that they had never feared their own inadequacies I would have a difficult time believing them.
Inadequacy is a perfectly relevant fear, and in my opinion, is particularly pertinent to the disabled community. The judgments of others can sometimes make people feel inadequate. Stereotypes, hurtful comments, and differential treatment can make anyone feel as if they are not worthy of being part of certain groups or communities. They make us feel as if our opinions, thoughts, and personalities are somehow less important. This is where I think some of the stereotype of disabled people being shy and conservative comes from. It is easy to dismiss someone’s ideas if you have already categorized the person as being weak, shy, or incapable.
Sometimes feelings of inadequacy and fear can even be self-inflicted. Many people have been in situations the limitations of a disability might seem insurmountable.
However there are a couple of pieces of information that I think any disabled person should remember when faced with feelings of inadequacy. First of all, people with disabilities are the largest minority group. This means that none of us are the first, or the last to face our challenges, and many before us have overcome them. Also, the disabled community represents the only minority that any person can become part of at any time. While most of us would never wish a disability on anyone it just shows that the line between so-called normalcy and being “different” is a very fine one. Therefore, those of us with disabilities have all the same rights as any other person, including the right to be as unique, loud, crazy, and daring as we wish
There are many reasons decided to start this blog but one of my most important agendas when blogging is sharing my views with a larger community of disabled individuals and anyone whose life has been altered by a disability. The disabled community in and of itself is a very powerful thing and I am proud to be a part of it. As someone who has lived with a disability all my life I can say wholeheartedly that the sense of community and support I have always felt from other disabled people has become a very key part of how I carry myself in everyday life.
As someone who is now in the very interesting position of living with a disability and working at in a field that serves disabled people, I have sometimes heard others make statements about large groups of disabled people out together being intimidating to others around them. Those people argue that creating that discomfort is counter-productive to community integration and should be generally avoided.
That is a gross over simplification and it drives me crazy. I can absolutely agree that we shouldn’t drag people in large groups for the sake of simplicity(staffing, transportation etc.). However this idea of accommodating the comfort of the general really bothers me.
Everyday across the world people come together in the name of common interest and bond over shared experiences. Nobody bats an eyelash when those groups are comprised of car enthusiast or even cancer survivors, in fact we celebrate those groups. Yet if I want to assemble a group of friends who all happen to be disabled that is somehow intimidating? I flat out refuse to accept that.
I spend my time with people that I find interesting and we go where choose, Everyone on the planet has that right.
I will work incredibly hard from this moment forward to cultivate a vibrant community of creative people with disabilities here at Project Speak. Together we will show the world that our common experience is valuable and positive. Having a disability is not a positive experience but it does make us part of a thriving community that deserves respect discouragement.
Project Speak was created with the intention of opening up the lines of communication and presenting the truth of the disabled experience to the widest possible audience. We will work tirelessly to make sure that our content is unclouded by the stereotypes, falsehoods and misunderstandings that sometimes create tensions between people with disabilities and others. However if we hope to come together for an honest discussion we must first acknowledge what divides us.
1. Prejudice – I would love to be a be able to say that there is no prejudice in the world that there are only misunderstandings; however this would be a lie. There are angry, stubborn, and hateful people in the world who do truly believe that only people like them are valuable. The important thing to remember is never to let another person’s beliefs define you or the way you look at other people. Each of us has the power and the right to make those decisions on our own.
2. Misunderstanding – Acknowledging the fact that there is prejudice in the world does not necessarily mean that every person who stereotypes the disabled is doing it out of malice. It has been my experience that even educated, intelligent, and caring people can sometimes act in ways that are hurtful. Not everyone grows up being exposed to disabilities on a regular basis and human beings do have a tendency to be apprehensive and even fearful about the unknown. This coupled with the fact that there’s so much false information about disabilities that has become ingrained into societal beliefs (like the idea that all physically disabled individuals also have mental impairments) can mean that sometimes people act in offensive, hurtful or stereotyping ways.
For example, I was the first disabled in several years person to go through my high school’s mainstream educational program. Most of my teachers had no experience with having a disabled student, particularly one with no cognitive or developmental impairments. Almost every time I went into a new classroom the teacher showed some level of apprehension or skepticism (one teacher whom I became particularly close with actually told me several years later he had never been so scared as he was when I first came into the classroom). Some even started to approach me differently than they would any other student but I stopped it as fast as I could. I was very honest and up front with them about what I needed and how I expected to be treated. I cannot take all the credit for this I also had a wonderful aid and a very involved mother who helped me through the process of growing up and understanding these things. Once my teachers understood my disability and what I was capable of I got a great education.
3. Media – The media plays a large role in dictating what is considered acceptable and “normal” (I use the quotes because I think normal is really an illusion) in this society and unfortunately there are very few honest, accurate, and thoughtful representations of the disabled community.
4. Self-stereotyping due to dependency – This is the most complex and difficult to define factor of this conversation. There are many disabled people in the world who are extremely self-sufficient and take great pride in their independence. However, the fact is that most of us who are disabled or going to need additional help in our lives. I think Sometimes that dependency can lead to bad habits. Some people simply get lazy and think that it’s easier to be weak and submissive to allow other people to run their lives for them. Sometimes, the self-stereotyping is done out of anger and frustration because it provides an easy way out. There are also those who lack the self-confidence to truly believe that they are capable of being active and outspoken in their own lives. One individual might go through phases where each of these things applies to them. However the important thing to realize is that no matter how dependent person is they do have the right to control in their own life. The law guarantees these rights and There are several resources available to help individuals advocate for their rights.