How did I get injured I hear you ask? Well, for the disabled performers who like me appeared in the Paralympic Opening Ceremonies, which will always be a highlight of our lives, we had to fight our way around very inaccessible rehearsal spaces as we prepared for the big night.
I know that many performers came away injured, and I was one of them.
It highlights the fact that when disabled people say they want a more accessible world it is because the world as it currently stands can hurt us. Surely we’re not asking for too much for our society to make itself not only accessible but safer for all of its members?
Of course another thing that being ill has reminded me of is how lucky I am to have someone in my life who looks after me and cares for me. I am stuck in bed right
now and I need help with pretty much everything to be honest. My wonderful wife has been nursing me and without her I have no idea how I would cope. So many sick and disabled people aren’t as lucky
as me. They have to rely on care being provided by other means, normally through the state care system.
One method of ensuring that people with long-term high level care needs had their needs met was the Independent Living Fund. The ILF provides finance to cover the cost of full time care, allowing disabled people to live independently in the community. Sadly it has just been
announced that it is being closed down. I have many close friends who rely on the ILF for the right to live and work independently and I know how scared they are right now. If the ILF is done away with and the responsibilities are passed on to already overstretched local councils, it is more than likely that many more disabled people will end up having to go into residential care. I can imagine how frightening that thought must be and it
is something disabled people have been fighting against for as long as I can remember.
One night during my bed imprisonment I watched the film Milk on TV. It really affected me and made me feel that now, more than ever before, disabled people need to come together and work to ensure that our voices are heard. Sure some of the current systems don’t work as well as they should, but instead of fixing things they are being dismantled, only to be replaced with answers even less fit for purpose. Something else I loved in the film was
how the gay community boycotted any business that didn’t welcome them and frequented those who did. We need to do this too. More than that, we also need to publicise our actions, protest outside inaccessible or unwelcoming businesses or buildings, and tell local and national TV/radio, your local paper and of course magazines like PosAbility. If we come
together we will be a voice to reckon with and we will be strong!
Funnily, while being ill I have found that at a time when I feel weak I also feel rather strong. A side-effect of my injury is a high level of pain, which added to my usual chronic pain is proving… annoying. It reminds me of how many sick and disabled people live every day with impairments and conditions that most non-disabled people just couldn’t cope with for a few hours. Instead of being considered amazing and strong, we are seen as weak. Why? I think we need to start reminding the world how tough we are! Tough, strong and brave! I know many people don’t like being called brave, but I think us disabled people are amazing and we should be proud of it!
In fact I think I will leave you with that thought. I don’t care what society, the media and almost every stereotype says, disabled people prove how amazing humanity is. If we work together, combining that individual strength into a community that fights for a more accessible and inclusive world, then nothing will stop us.
Phew, I’m knackered now. All that ranting has tired me out!
Contact Mik with your access stories –