Monday, May 01, 2006

Happy BADD

Today is Blogging Against Disablism Day (BADD).  I heard about it on the latest Ouch Podcast from the BBC. Matt and Liz seem to be causing a bit of a hoo haa over their first podacst and aim to continue to raise hackles if the second one was anything to go by. (Ah blagging stuff for free ‘cos you’re a cripple – there is a tale or two to be told there!)

I rarely blog about disability except here, here and here. However it’s as important in its impact on my life and identity as my sexuality and probably even more so as I live my disability with each step and breath and maybe being a lesbian with every second one ;-)  In fact I suppose as I don’t do a heavy amount of personal blogging that many readers might not know I have a disability.

The title Blogging Against Disablism is a bit of a mouthful and indeed in Ireland we rarely use the term ableist or disablist when referring to the structures in society that limit the participation of disabled people. Access and handicap are still words being used today. Goldfish, who started all this off, said that the language police are on holiday for today in blogging terms – she asks for a Language Amnesty and I for one am happy for oblige. I often struggle for the right words myself, in print or verbally so today I’m going to relax.  

Disablism rather than my disabilities effects where and if I work, where I live, who I love and how I love. Going out and staying in and where I go on holiday. The message set by BADD is that disability is more about the able bodied and their reactions and intentions that what my body is able to do.

One of the things I note from reading some blogs/journals by disabled people is the (welcome) change in being comfortable in talking about pain or other effects of disability. In the early days of the social model of disability the removal of pain (and I mean pain in a very broad sense here) as a discourse was very noticeable.  Many of us were going round being supercrips. Angry at the state, even angrier at the medical and social systems that provided us with services, but don’t mention the war – or the fact that you were exhausted, in pain and did not feel like getting up out of bed or were not able - because you should pull yourself together and continue to be brave, and live up to able bodied expectations.

The O2 Ability Awards however continues this discourse of supercrips with vignettes of Mary who returned to work following a brain tumour with the support of her employer and smiles her way through every day being fulfilled. But more significantly we now get Company XYZ who win an award for ‘investing in people’ when in fact they are actually obeying the law and getting a nice prize and free PR for being good to cripples.

Disability and Disablism in Ireland is still wrapped up in the language of charities (now known as service providers) these days. We’re all being enabled, mentored, supported and assisted. Disabled people are still the problem to be helped rather than the environment that excludes us. I don’t think Irish society sees Disablism as being as ‘bad’ as sexism and racism (and yes I don’t think Ireland Inc. sees them as being really ‘bad’ either.)  If you get a job or a ramp or a wheelchair you are seen as lucky rather than equal. The words reasonable accommodation in equality legislation are ones which we should be grateful for rather than angry at. Well I don’t have the solutions to ending disablism but it would help a lot if people recognised its existence in the first place!

And for the day that is in it a few bloggers with disabilities that are worth having a look at.

I am not aware of many Irish bloggers writing about disability or disablism – Jenny McCann is one that I discovered through Knackered Kaz. If there are others let me  know in the comments.

In reading other blogs participating in BADD I came across Lady Bracknell and yes she does look a little bit like me I think!  See  her excellent post for BADD.  Falling of My Pedestal has some provoking writing on pain, discomfort, and invisibility and mainstreaming.

The BBC Ouch blog is an excellent resource for news and views on disability. It’s a pity that BBC’s programming on disability issues is so minimalist these days.


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