Having a disability my entire life, I’ve experienced my share of discrimination. Of people making snap judgements of my intellectual ability based on my appearance. But today I wanted to share a story that I hope encourages you to think differently if you have a disability and have experienced discrimination.
When I was in high school, I spent a week with my grandparents one summer. My youngest cousin lived close by so she’d come over to our grandparents house and hang out. One day we went to a movie and to Walmart. While at Walmart, we stopped into the bathroom. For some reason I didn’t take my manual wheelchair into the stall with me, so I parked it right outside the door.
As I was in the stall, I saw my little cousin get into my chair and roll it back and forth. I could see her little pink and white tennis shoes floating back and forth under the door. My grandma filled me in later on what happened next:
“When you were in the bathroom stall, a woman came out the stall next door and looked at Kristina in your chair. She then washed her hands and left. Kristina looked up at me and proudly exclaimed, “I think she thought I was handicapped!!”
Let me restate that. In the eyes of a young child, being labeled “handicapped” is a sign of pride and honor!
Dear employers, job recruiters and society; we are not a group to be pitied, avoided or fixed. We need respect and a chance to show you what we can do. After all, being disabled basically just means that we come into the world with a few more accessories than the average person. 😉