Note: this letter is written to all able-bodied people from the perspective a 25 year-old disabled woman, namely me. The opinions in this letter are mine and should not be used to make blanket assumptions about the disabled community in general, though I wouldn’t be surprised to find that a lot of disabled people would agree with me.
Dear Able-Bodied Citizen:
I realize that I am something of a curiosity for you, my battery-powered wheelchair, bent hands, muscle spasms in chronically bad posture is definitely strange. I am writing this letter will in an attempt to treat your ignorance and inform you of some of your habits that drive me crazy.
- If you are in a store with your children and they ask what is wrong with me do not tell them to avert their eyes and hurry past.Just because you were taught that this is acceptable behavior doesn’t mean you are correct. If your kids want to know why I am it in a chair tell them to ask me. I will not bite or give them a communicable disease, what I will do is give them an age-appropriate answer to the question in the hope that the next generation is better informed than the previous ones.
- Just because I use a wheelchair please do not assume I am below average intelligence.In simpler terms do not speak to me as though I am I am five years old, it’s demeaning and insults both of our intelligences.
- Please do not pat me on the head.I am a person not a pet and since you are a stranger to me you have no right to touch me like that anyway.
- Do not assume that you can ask very personal questions within five minutes of meeting me.Do not ask me if I am capable of having children right after we are introduced, you don’t need to know unless you are interested in that happening and if you are interested the fact that you brought it up so soon is almost a guarantee that I will not be interested.
- If I am in a store with a dog there is a reason.I realize that most retail stores, theaters, restaurants etc.have a “no dogs allowed” policy, in my case however in most circumstance I have legal grounds to disregard that rule. The dog you see walking beside me is trained or in training to be a physical extension of me, bridging the gap between what I want to do and what my body is physically capable of, the federal government views a service animal as a four-legged piece of medical equipment, telling me that my dog isn’t allowed is the same as denying me the use of my wheelchair.
I hope this letter has been informative without being rude and I appreciate the time you took to read it.
Just Another Citizen of the Human Race