I have done some talks and talked to people with “disabilities” and there is a common theme around difference and the negative view of the word disability by some people.
There are some people who are very impaired and have to have almost everything done for them, including breathing and / or eating amongst many things. Without support they would die in a few minutes / hours and often the lives they lead are not very independent and they have little or no choice and autonomy. As a society, we may well consider them both disabled and disempowered.
But what about people living in the community, people working or volunteering, they are just like other people in so many ways, they work, socialise, contribute to society and pay taxes. Isn’t that what “abled bodied” people do? How are they different?
And the “able bodied”, those that do not fulfil the definitions of “disabled” for the purposes of benefit entitlement, which seems to be a relatively widely accepted definition of disability? There are plenty of people who make choices that put them at risk. Wearing high heels puts me at risk of falling and I cannot walk very far in them, but that would not make me eligible for any disability funding and no-one has ever said to me that they would consider me to be disabled when I am wearing them. I know it is a choice and I can take them off.
I have met a number of people with significant self-limiting beliefs, which really disempowers them, they constantly self-analysis and doubt, the effect is paralyzing to their ambition, but since they can just about take part in society, again they are not considered disabled.
As for para-Olympians, the “super people”, they are inspiring and can often do more than able bodied people in their field and outside their field. It took a lot of dedication to get to their state of fitness and achievement.
Why can’t we just be people? We are all different, we have different things that we are good at. The box ticking exercise works for some limited purpose, but in many ways it doesn’t serve us as a broader society. There are 7 billion people on this planet, we have similarities, but we are all different. The things that make us similar are global, we all want a good life and to make meaningful connections with others.
So let’s see “diffability”, difference, not inability, since we all have strengths and talents. #EveryLifeHasEqualValue.