Even as a young child I found great freedom in writing. It was a way for me to escape the bullying I experienced at school and to become immersed in a world different to my own. To be able to sink into someone else’s problems helped me to avoid thinking about my own, but the countless pages I filled with half-developed characters and meagre plots are long gone. They were words without meaning; I knew in my mind where the characters would go and what they would say and do, so I never let anyone else see much of my work. The stories were already told. Besides the escapism there was no purpose to the writing, and as such the joy I found in it soon dispersed.
I find that the pleasure of writing comes not from the putting of pen to paper, but in the knowledge that others will read the words you wrote, will think about them and learn from them, and maybe even be emotionally moved by them. It is this that prompted me to create “Diary of a Disabled Person” and it is this that keeps me filling the pages of notebooks while sat in coffee shops; a perfectly typical writer with a message to send.
This blog is not aimed at those with disabilities themselves, although I am extremely pleased that many disabled people have given me positive feedback and support, which means that I am representing the community well and have avoided offending anyone. This blog is in fact targeted at those without disabilities.
Disabled people know what living with a disability is like; they do not need to be told once again by someone in a similar situation that there are issues in the way disability is incorporated into society. While I accept that disability support groups help some people, I find the culture of a large group of disabled people meeting up to sit off to one side moaning about being disabled irritating; nothing will ever change if the rest of the world doesn’t know that there are issues in need of solutions. Nothing will ever change if we don’t try to integrate with the rest of society. Martin Luther King had the support of the African-American community when he gave his infamous “I have a dream speech”, but the people he wanted to target were the white supremacists. It would be like preaching to the converted; it wouldn’t have an effect.
Those not living with a disability, or not living or working with someone who is disabled, are probably oblivious to some of the issues faced on a daily basis; how could someone be expected to know about something they have had no experience of? It is not a criticism, it is a fact, and I started this blog to address that fact. In my attempts to integrate with society and to preach my message to those who have not heard it, I have made some headway in the battle to fully incorporate disability into modern society. The more people become aware of the issues, the more they will fight back against them and support those with disabilities. Many people discriminate by accident; by not switching on an automatic door or lift, or parking over a ramp. Educating people as to why those things are significant will make an impact on society.
Perhaps, if anything, I’m trying to stir up a little trouble. The good kind of trouble, I might add. I want people to talk about disability. I want people to ask me questions. I want people to think a little more carefully about their actions towards anyone with a disability. If enough people raise their voices the authorities cannot deny hearing us.
I didn’t write this blog to generate sympathy but empathy, and it is this that gives my words meaning.