PSA for the Able-Bodied
My mother uses a scooter to get around, she has multiple sclerosis (MS) and cannot walk. She also has very limited hand coordination and fine motor skills. She needs a lot of help to do basic things.
My mother cannot use the bathroom in a normal sized stall.
My mother needs space on each side of our van to get into her scooter.
My mother needs to use an elevator to get between floors.
When an able-bodied person uses the handicap stall, parks in the handicap spot, or uses the elevator reserved for handicapped people they are lowering my mother’s quality of life.
Those services are there so people like my mom can enjoy the same quality of life that you and I enjoy. They are not there for able-bodied people to use. Please stop using them.
I can’t tell you the amount of times we have skipped on a restaurant because able-bodied people were taking up the handicapped parking spots, or the number of times my mother has been unable to use the bathroom because able-bodied people are taking the stall she needs (and for many who are not able-bodied, having to use the bathroom means having to go right that second).
It is ableist to use resources for handicapped people when you are able bodied.
First off, let me just take a minute and appreciate the fact that I only slow clapped this post in my head. You might not realize it, but I deal with cultural and interpersonal ableism dozens of times every single day without saying a fucking word. In part because people don’t seem to get that appropriating resources designated to disabled or otherwise-abled persons for convenience sake is not okay, regardless of whether it’s “only for a minute” or not.
Just a word of caution though: not all disabilities are immediately discernible. A good friend of mine is able to walk, but struggles with balance and motor difficulties. It’s not uncommon to see people snapping at her to get off the elevator or give up her seat on the bus because when she’s just sitting there, there’s no way to tell that she might have different needs than an able-bodied person. Try to remember that there are all sorts of disabilities out there: not every visually impaired person will have a seeing-eye dog and not every person who can’t take the stairs will use a wheelchair.
The above point is another distinction between racism/sexism and ableism. If you see or hear someone doing something racist, it’s pretty much your responsibility to call them out on that shit. If you see someone you presume is able-bodied using a handicapped service, do not call them out on it. Just because someone looks able-bodied does not mean they are, and it can be very upsetting to a handicapped person to be yelled at because someone presumes they are able bodied.
Before she started to use a cane to walk, my mother could walk but couldn’t walk very far. She used the handicapped elevators and parking spots for this reason. She was often met with glares and contempt from people who saw that she could walk and presumed that she was able-bodied. Making assumptions and policing disabled bodies is another form of ableism.
The best way to fight ableism is not to police other behaviors, but to instead police your own behaviors.
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