Friday, October 5, 2007

I prefer unawareness...

So this week at UVSC is officially "Disabilities Awareness Week", and I've never seen anything more insulting.

My entire life's endeavor has been disability unawareness. When I meet a new person or people, I don't want them to think of me as 'The Guy in the Wheelchair'. Of course, there's not a lot I can really do about that so I try to somehow amend the title I can't escape with precursor words. 'The Funny Guy in the Wheelchair', or even 'The Hot Guy in the Wheelchair' are good examples of titles that are pleasing. But it's really irritating to be known by an object my butt happens to be stuck to a lot.

Also, my number one pet peeve is when people assume that because my legs don't work, my brain must not work either. Believe you me, friends, there is nothing more degrading than being treated like you're mentally handicapped. Whenever some idiot comes to me with a condescending smile, hands on their knees, using a voice reserved for very small annoying dogs, I feel like punching them in the face. "Disabilities Awareness Week" is just the sort of event that encourages that mentality.

The best way to make 'handicapped' people feel comfortable and accepted is to not treat them differently at all. I always forget I'm in a wheelchair until people ask me those questions they're afraid to ask (what happened to you, what's your disease called, is it genetic, etc.). I'm not saying I'm too proud to accept help sometimes, but there is a vast difference between accommodation and overbearing, constant reminders.

I seriously considered writing a letter to someone, but two things stopped me. First: I have vowed never to become one of those whiny, self-pitying fools that seem to comprise the majority of the group labeled 'people in wheelchairs'. Second: I really didn't know who to write to. I'm sure the second issue could have been dealt with quite easily, but the first will probably hold my tongue time and time again. Oh well. 'That's life', as they say in France.