A massive middle finger to all chauvinistic pigs who grounds the rest of us down under their ponssy heals.

To anyone out there who thinks it’s ok to demoralize, stigmatize, belittle, degrade, squeeze the life out of someone, emotionally destroy someone based on their gender, disability, sexual orientation, race, religion or cultural background I am baffled, ashamed outraged and sickened.

Give me three logical, unemotional reasons why you are better than anyone else that has nothing to with educational, ethnic, gender, sexual orientational, race, religion or cultural issues?
What gives you the right to think you’re anything more than a pathetic, close-minded asshole who obviously has thoughts above your station?
If you can’t see past your own patriarchal, archaic, rude, pretentious, establishmentarianism, entitled nose than why should I take you seriously or hold your opinions in any esteem?
If you think it’s your duty to treat others worse than road kill that you wouldn’t feed to your dog than you are seriously messed up. I would call you insane or retarded but that would be the biggest insult to those who suffer from mental illness or have a learning disability because at least these groups of people have a basic sense of what it means to be gracious have good manners, treat others right, be respectful, kind and polite to fellow human beings.
Treating others like a piece of meat that you can beat down, mistreat, emotionally destroy to then mould to what you think they should be is torture.
Your insane sense of entitlement that deludes you to believe you have the power to control those around you to the point of becoming the most toxic thing in their lives is the utmost show of pigheaded rudeness. REALITY check you are not the king of the universe. We will not bow down, lick your shoes and beg you to give us worse food and shelter than you would give pigs because that would be the kind and decent thing of you do too because you are not the almighty god of all knowledge and power.

Many thanks a bisexual, visually impaired woman.

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Society is still living in a disabled mindset it needs to change now.

I personally believe that it’s important to discuss, be open, honest and candid about the fact that whilst it is important to stay as positive as possible in a world where society is not geared to fully accommodate people with a disability, it’s majorly important bring attention to the fact that negative stereotypes, misguided advice and stifling people can be very damaging.

Improving positive equality and diversity in the workplace, general community, media, sport, housing etc is vital.

We need to share our stories of how even seemingly small statements or actions can be very detrimental to people with any form of disability.

When I’ve heard stories about businesses saying they don’t provide access to their buildings via the use of ramps, lifts to all areas of the restaurant, shop, attraction, etc, there is no disabled loo or it is used for storage etc and then turn around and have the Gaul to say it’s because ‘we don’t get many of you’re people here’. The automatic response is ‘well why the hell do you think you don’t get many of ‘our people’ here? It’s because you have stupendously hideous attitudes towards disability in general and if that’s the way you think then I don’t want to bump up your bottom line with my hard earned money thank you very much.’

Even the use of the seemingly innocuous words ‘you’re people here’ is extremely derogatory as it lumps every single person with a disability into one category and sends the message that society still believes that disability equates to the inability of living normal lives. Disability is not equivalent to being completely incapable of even leaving the house. We are human beings who want, can and do eat out, visit attractions, go shopping and integrate into the wider community just as any other competant able-bodied peer. We are not social degenerates who need to be locked up and hidden away to make you feel less uncomfortable about the differences in society.

Thinking you know what’s best for us, denying us services and questioning our abilities, qualities and basic right to live our lives the way we choose to is extremely patronising, mentally draining, close-minded and belittling. The only thing that disables people with any kind of impairment is societies attitudes and inability to change and adapt to the fact that the disability community is a thriving one, full of economic potential with people from all walks of life who have the capacity be friends, partners, employees, customers etc.

Why do you feel the need to deny us access to you’re resturant just because you can’t be bothered to find out about the Government’s scheme that pays you to put a ramp in place, why is it up to you how much of an attraction we can and can’t see because you don’t have a lift that accesses all area’s, why do you insist on making shopping so difficult by impeding people’s mobility, why do you deny us traveling from a to b simply because you don’t like dogs? All these things are illegal or frowned upon under UK and EU laws and there is no real reason why changes can’t start to be made today to improve the way business is run to improve accessibility and enjoyability of all customers.

Portraying people as weak, vulnerable, in constant need of help in mainstream media is extremely damaging to societies attitudes towards us as individuals with individual human rights who are able to achieve great things given the correct support. We are not always fragile pieces of China that need to be bubble wrapped when we even suggest doing ANYTHING.

What experience does general society have in dealing with people with real disabilities that are as varied and numerous as the stars in the sky? We should never be told we can’t burn brightly because you don’t think we’re capable of doing things or you think it’s unsafe or unsavoury for us to be living a life like anyone else would.

However subconsciously, creating a world where someone like myself feels like I have to hide or downplay my disability for fear of shame, rejection, pity, negative judgment, denial of jobs services and good or inappropriate advice is extremely harmful to our progression of self-confidence, self-worth, acceptance and meaningful actions that move society, economy and the world at large forward. As I say I’m someone who doesn’t fit into the archaic and ridiculous ideal of what disability looks like so I pity anyone who takes one look at someone who can’t ‘mask’ their disability and judges them based on their cover alone.

Why is it that you don’t think we should be able to live a normal life?
Why do you believe that we want or need your pity?
Why don’t you think we are capable of working?
Why do you think that all we are good for is sitting at home staying out of your sight and mind just watching daytime telly and scrunching of the state?
Why do you then hate and belittle people that have been forced into that corner?
Why do you think we constantly mope around feeling sorry for ourselves?
Why do you feel the need to talk to my ‘able-bodied’ friend instead of me?
If you do dare talk to me why do you think it’s ok to belittle me and patronise me by talking more slowly, louder and in simplified English?

These are simply my own personal ramblings and is just the tip of the iceberg when dealing with issues that many disabled people still face in today’s society. An attitude that hasn’t moved forward enough is what imprisons people with a disability, not their impairment itself.

Pain, frustration and positivity. It’s ok to have dark days with a disability

The aim of this post is not to garner sympathy at all. This is just a rambling post about the impact a visual impairment can have on one’s mental health, specifically my own as I can never begin to imagine what other people go through or their thought processes regarding their own sight and personal journey.

This is in no way a post that describes every single experience that every single person with a visual impairment has. It’s simply a portrayal of one way in which one individual has been shaped. My life is in no way meaningless just because of my own journey or experiences. It does not mean I don’t aim to have a fulfilling, positive and meaningful life. If anything the life experiences that I’ve had is one of the main reasons why I want to work with people and make a change in the lives of others who may be travelling the same path as myself

I was born with Oculocutanious Albinism, a stable condition that means I am legally blind. Do I consider myself to be ‘blind’? No, as I have a lot of useful vision compared to a lot of people who I know in the visually impaired community. However, the more important question is do I even consider myself fully visually impaired? … No.

I try and blag my way through life as much as possible because I don’t want to seem vulnerable or weak in any way. It’s almost like I don’t want to accept that I need help. I don’t want people thinking I can’t do something because of my sight.

However, doing so puts me in a worse situation than if I held my hands up fully to the fact that there are times that I actually need a little extra support.

To give an example, I don’t use a long cane nearly as much as I should do. I don’t want to look ‘blinder’ than I think I am. I also don’t think I need a mobility aid as much as someone who has less sight than I do so I feel like a bit of a fraud whenever I use it.

Generally speaking, my dear sweet loving family are extremely supportive and want the best for me and want me to access help where appropriate. However, my long cane has always been a bit of a funny situation. My parents have always discouraged me to use my cane around where I live. On numerous occasions, I have been told in no uncertain terms that my cane would put less trust in me because it would be a physical sign of my visual impairment primarily in terms of the previous types of jobs that I’ve had or when applying for jobs. I have also struggled a lot when it comes to disclosing my visual impairment when applying for a job and I have always been advised not to because it might harm my ability to be shortlisted for an interview. Of course, when mummy dearest gives you advice you tend to want to listen because … well, she’s mum and you always tend to believe that parents have more life experience and know what’s what.

Now, I’m not saying that my parents are bad people. Of course their not, quite the opposite in fact. However, I think it can be very difficult for parents of children with any form of disability, especially an invisible disability that is both severe but not severe at the same time. There is no manual on how to best deal with any and all situations that can and do crop up.

Having the condition that I have means you live in a bit of a grey scale world. You don’t fit into the sighted world but, this is just how I feel, you don’t fully fit into the blind world either. It’s almost like you’re a bit of a nomad just stumbling from point to point. You have enough sight to be able to pass as sighted but you need certain aids to help but some aids are specifically designed for people with little to no sight that you don’t feel you actually need or want them.

This perpetual cycle of thinking you’re more sighted than you actually are can be very dangerous, physically, mentally and emotionally. Due to the fact that I don’t use a cane people don’t know that my sight isn’t good enough to move out of the way and can be a rather stupid risk to take when in busy urban areas where there are lots of bikes, cars, buses etc. Emotionally you never feel you fit into one specific place and don’t know how to describe what you can and can’t see because there isn’t specific vocabulary that isn’t medical jargon.

Mentally it can almost be a daily battle to either explain to people that yes you are disabled and no you’re not faking it, decided if it’s the right decision to declare you’re disability for job applications, fighting for the correct support which can sometimes be hard because not even you know the wide variety of support that is out there (because it would be way to easy to make help fully accessible and fully at the forefront of peoples awareness) and how it can help, feeling like you can’t do jobs that you want because of your disability and feeling like you’re stuck in a place where you’ll never get a good career that’ll fulfil you because people don’t want the hasstle of a visually impaired employee or don’t think you are capable of performing tasks simply based upon your disability.

Emotionally it’s tiring feeling stuck in one place because out of pure and utter lazy habit it’s become a safe little bubble where you can run and hide perpetuating the cycle of self-doubt, never trying new things, never pushing yourself because you constantly tell yourself that you’ll never amount to much in a sighted world. You feel trapped by your environment and the little bubble that you don’t feel safe to leave.

I am at a crossroads in my life at the moment. I am applying for Universal Credit (part of the UK’s benefits system) which I must say has a very regimented way of doing things and seemingly has very little understanding or regard for people with a wide variety of disabilities and that being disabled is not just a black or white situation. However, I digress. Until I am receiving money I don’t feel like I am able to move forward because I don’t have the financial aid to fund things like invaluable voluntary work that could be very useful to me gaining a job that I could be good at and that I’d actually want to do. Volunteering would also mean having to travel further afield than St Albans, which luckily is so close to London that I’m quite comfortable travelling to London seeing as I’ve done it so many times. However, the fact that my whole working life so far has revolved around St. Albans the prospect of travelling somewhere different, meeting a wider variety of people and so on is rather daunting and something that my mental attitude has thrown a bit of a hissy fit about recently.

I know I have to travel outside my comfort zone or I’ll never grow as a person but my mind and emotions are like, ‘fuck it Ellie do you really want to put yourself out there and just get turned down immediately? coz that’s just a very real possibility you know?’.

So the long and the short of it is. That is where I am in my life so far. One part of me wants to run and hide from everything and another little jiminy cricket part of me is screaming at me to jump into the deep end and flail about until I learn how to tread water and look like a swan, kicking my feet but cool, calm and relaxed on the surface.

Life isn’t easy when you’ve got an invisible disability. We all have our own journeys, emotions, mentality and outward influencers that we have to deal with and it’s ok to feel lost, angry and upset. There is no timeframe or specific way to deal with these feelings and issues. However, if you are someone you know is feeling like this then just know that it’s ok and you’re not the only one who feels these feels.

I’m not disabled, society makes me so

Do able-bodied children instinctively know how to cook a roast dinner? NO!!!

Do able-bodied children instinctively know how to make their bed? NO!!!

Do able-bodied children instinctively know how to cross the road safely? NO!!!

Do able-bodied children instinctively know how to read/write, tell the time or count money? NO!!!

Do able-bodied children instinctively know how to ride a bike, swim or play any sports? NO!!!

These are just a few examples of things that children and young people need to be taught. Every able-bodied child has their own personal techniques, preferences and time frames for being able to learn things that are useful to develop their independence or allow them to enjoy themselves and have fun.

A child with a visual impairment is EXACTLY the same. Of course, we will have a different set of techniques to overcome the fact that we cannot see as well as our able-bodied peers. However, we are able to achieve all the same goals and expectations as those with ‘normal’ vision. We are perfectly capable of wanting to and actually living independently. Just because it’s not your way of living independently doesn’t make it wrong. It just means we are living in a way that suits our level of vision and living to our true individual selves based on our personality, education and personal experiences.

Given the right support, set of techniques that are tailored to our own vision and personalities and an appropriate time frame there is nothing that we can’t achieve that our able-bodied counterparts can. Of course, there will be things that we can never do. We’ll never be able to pilot a fighter jet, perform complex neurosurgery or read small print but that doesn’t mean are not an asset to society who needs to be shut up and kept out of sight.

But just because we can’t do certain things such as the examples I gave above, that doesn’t give anyone the right to use our visual impairment as an excuse as to why we supposedly can’t do something. Given the right, correct and tailored support and education, we can be and are an asset to society.

What logical reason can you give me why I can’t cook and eat my own meal independently or pour a glass or cup of any sort of drink?

What logical reason do you have why I can’t clean my own bathroom?

What logical reason do you have why I can’t use a phone, computer or tablet?

What logical reason do you have why I can’t make my bed?

What logical reason do you have why I can’t catch a bus or go into town independently?

What logical reason do you have to believe that the only way that I can access any reading materials is via braille?

What logical reason do you have to believe that my sight is exactly the same as the next person who has exactly the same condition as me?

What logical right do you have to think you know what’s best for me when you know nothing about my personal preferences, personality or previous experiences?

What logical right do you have to instantly come in and do something for me when I’m either capable of doing it myself or learning to do it in my own way?

What logical reason do you have to think that I can’t enjoy tv shows or going to the cinema?

What logical reason do you have to instantly change the language that you would usually use around your able-bodied friends just because of my ‘disability’?

What logical reason do you have to think that I want to be prayed for?

What logical reason do you have to believe I deserve to be treated as my disability before being treated as a regular human being?

What logical reason do you have to believe that I don’t care about the way I look or about my personal health and hygiene at all?

What logical reason do you have to believe or think that I wouldn’t want to partake in any form of sports at all?

I’m more than the total worth of your assumptions about a disability. First and foremost I’m a human being who is the culmination of my likes, dislikes, choices, experiences, beliefs and opinions. I just happen to be visually impaired, I’m not disabled I’m visually impaired. It is societies overarching views and beliefs on disability and uneducated assumptions and the physical inaccessibility that society has created that makes me disabled.

My disability is not a life sentence

My visual impairment doesn’t mean I’m imprisoned in a god-awful life that sucks ass. It’s not a life sentence either. Of course, there are challenges of having a visual impairment. I can’t drive a car for instance.

My life, however, it’s far from saddening, meaningless or pitiful. I love Taekwondo and train regularly throughout the week at a mainstream club. I am taught everything, every technique every aspect of taekwondo just like everyone else who attends the classes and I’m already half way to black belt. My visual impairment does not stop me from wanting to achieve a goal, stay fit and be able to defend myself whilst having fun along the way.

I have Occularcutanious Albinism which means my eyes skin and hair are much lighter than those without the condition because of a lack of melanin which gives colour to all these parts of the body.

Yes, there is a higher risk that I may get melanoma of the skin or eye because my skin and eyes don’t have the natural defences against UV rays. That’s easily remedied though simply through the application of suncream and sunglasses. It’s what everyone has to do to protect themselves from harmful rays it’s no different or inconvenience.

In regards to my hair colour? Well, I don’t ever have to worry about adversely damaging my hair with constant bleaching to achieve this look and yes, my hair may get slightly lighter as I get older but I’ll never go grey. So all in all? money well saved and no damaged hair for me BAM!!!

My visual impairment doesn’t stop me from enjoying the tv show, music, books or sport that I enjoy. It doesn’t stop me from having my own opinions and preferences in terms of politics, clothing and work and career aspirations.

I’m not someone who wants or needs pitying. It is unwelcome and unneeded. I will admit that having a visual impairment does impact on how well I can access certain area’s of life but that is due to social inadequacies rather than my own. My eyesight doesn’t mean I can’t read it just means I can’t read the tiny writing that society still places everywhere. It doesn’t mean I can’t travel independently I just need to be a bit better prepared in terms of knowing exactly where I’m going and familiarising myself with new places.

My life isn’t restricted because of my ‘disability’ it’s restricted because of societies lack of appropriate accessibility that would allow me to fully incorporate myself into the wider community with total ease.

I’m not someone to be mollycoddled. I deserve to be treated with respect, dignity and the same equal human rights as my able-bodied counterparts. My visual impairment isn’t the thing that holds me back in life it’s the sweeping, misguided and stereotypical views of society as a whole that holds me back. I don’t have special needs I just have different needs that need to be overcome in a different way.

Who gives anyone else the right to judge the quality of my life or my abilities based on an overarching and archaic view that people with a disability need constant help and can’t live a fulfilling life? Not everyone with a disability faces the same challenges, uses the same techniques to overcome any hurdles or have the same personality. We should never be placed into one box or viewed as a degenerate who deserves to be dictated to because other people seem to think they know what I’m going through or whats best for me.

Working with an individual, instead of working or talking about them, giving them space to voice their opinions, thoughts and needs and to be properly listened to, is the most liberating thing someone can do for another human being. Treating that individual as a human person with a voice who knows what they want and helping them achieve what they need in an appropriate time frame gives them back their independence, dignity and helps them take back the appropriate rains in their own lives. Never suffocate someone by treating them the way you think they need to be helped. Ask how when and where you can help them with a listening ear and mindfulness that their needs and challenges will constantly be changing and evolving.

A house should never be a prison.

Why should people who have a disability be forced into accommodation that does not suit their needs that allow independence and dignity?

Many people who live with a disability may have to rely on council housing because it can be harder for us to find sufficiently paid jobs or any job at all.

For people like myself who do have a disability but are capable of working it can be a tough and inconvenient position to find ourselves in. Finding jobs that suites our personality but is also doable due to our disability can be tough.

I’m no computer wiz and I hate the idea of working in an office or factory from 9 – 5. Just because I have a visual impairment I shouldn’t have to feel like I need to work in an office where there would be ‘easy’ accommodations or access to work. Why should I have to settle for something that won’t nourish my soul just because I have a disability? I want to make a difference in people’s lives. I want to work with people where no two days are exactly the same.

This situation people with a disability to often find themselves in can lead to periods of time without structured work as the only option may be benefits. This can then lead to extra support from the local council in the form of council housing.

As a rule, I’m not saying that council housing is a bad thing at all. Many council houses can be very sturdy places that can become a very suitable home for some. No, my gripe is that council housing isn’t generally built for people with disabilities.

Spaces that aren’t designed with accessibility in mind can be demoralising, undignified and inhumane. People who have no other choice but to move into a building that does not suit their needs can have a severe impact on one’s emotional, mental and overall physical wellbeing. It can only be a huge strain on every aspect of life to try and navigate an environment, that is supposed to be your home, that does not allow you to move around with ease and comfort because it restricts your ability to access it in the correct manner.

No one should ever feel imprisoned in a space that doesn’t feel like a home or a space they can feel proud of and comfortable in. It seems to me that people are placed in the most appropriate place available within the best time frame possible without much thought to the long-term needs of the individual.

It just seems insane that a potentially vulnerable community of people aren’t being catered for in this fast passed world we live in now. We live in one of the most developed nations in the world and yet a whole community of people are being left behind because of the number crunching that the government has been forced to do in recent times.

Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying it’s completely the government’s fault at all. I’m not stupid. I know we live in an age where money is tight and has to be spent well but why can’t money be set aside to help properly aid people to live in truly accessible accommodation that can assist in their independence, overall health and potentially aid the ability to truly look for appropriate work?

It’s just logical sense that you invest in people then the general rule is they will inevitably be able to provide for themselves in the long run and help boost the economy. Now I understand that housing is just a small part of a much wider picture. However, if people are able to have access to proper housing that meets their needs they will be able to direct their attention more greatly to other goals other than worrying about how hard it would be just to live in a space that restricts their potential so badly.

So all in all? Invest in people and you will be investing in not only their future but the future of a community and the wider population.

I’m not here to make you feel better or reinforce your misconceptions.

I’m not here to make you feel better about yourself, your life or your circumstances. I’m here to live the life that I want, the way that I feel comfortable and achieve great things.

Yes, my eyesight is shitty because I’m medically blind and I burn a lot easier than you and can’t use digital devices without some sort of accessible software, yes I can’t read the maps on the underground or bus timetables or the menus at restaurants as easily as you, yes I find it more difficult to navigate steps and new environments than you, yes bright lights can be a real eye ache and my eyes get more tired more quickly than yours.

However, my life doesn’t suck balls. I have my own set of challenges that I have to constantly work around. Nonetheless, there will be things that I may be better at than you. I may be better at taekwondo or horse riding or playing the violin than you.

Just because I have a visual impairment doesn’t mean my life is devoid of all meaning, hope, joy, passions, goals and aspirations. My life is just different from yours just like the other 7 billion peoples lives.

The worst thing about being ‘disabled’ is peoples perceptions that we can’t do anything, can’t achieve anything of any real importance or that we constantly need help or pity from able-bodied peers. We do need help to figure out ways of coping with our unique challenges but that does not mean we are completely dependant on others all of the time.

Constant intervention from others, rather than being helpful can be very limiting, frustrating and debilitating. It doesn’t help to build our resilience, independence or ability to create and work with useful strategies that aid us in our lives.

How would you like it if someone constantly wrapped you up in bubble wrap because they thought of you as lesser than themselves and less able to thrive and strive in the wider community? Frustrated right?

We need to work in partnership to develop constructive methods of growing as individuals rather than simply receiving unwanted and unwarranted sympathy from people who think it is such an awful thing to be disabled or misguided help from those who don’t or won’t talk to us about why might actually be useful in achieving and maintaining independence but simply try and palm us off with help that isn’t in any way useful.

The real test of living with a disability is living in a world that isn’t really geared to help or accommodate people with disabilities. We still live in very much a sighted, hearing and mobile world that makes those of us with a lifelong condition feel disabled because we can’t access what able-bodied people can with the same ease if at all.
We may have a medically diagnosed condition but we are socially disabled.

Perceptions about people with a disability or long-term health condition are imposed and impounded by a world that doesn’t seem to have the ability to accept that we have different needs and requirements to access the wider community. These perceptions and stereotypes and misconceptions are only deepened by misrepresentation in the media.

The majority of representation in mainstream commercial media seems to be made up of two different types of people with disabilities. The first seems to be the type of person who can’t do anything, can’t access anything, can’t live a happy, healthy, independent, productive and meaningful life. The second seems to be someone who has achieved something extraordinary or done something that seems amazing because they have a disability.

Just because I have a visual impairment and love taekwondo doesn’t make me extraordinary people. It just means I’m an individual who loves keeping fit in a way that involves me learning how to defend myself in a disciplined manner. I’m not extraordinary because I have a disability and have won medals at dressage events in the past. I’m not extraordinary because I’m disabled and managed to pass my degree with a 2:1 no, that’s extraordinary because I got a 2:1 in my degree and that’s it. I’m not extraordinary because I have a disability and have worked, no it’s extraordinary because I’m one of many young people in the midst of a financial crisis who was able to get a job in the first place.

Yes, my sight has presented me with challenges throughout my life and that will never stop but it doesn’t mean I’m not able to do the things that able-bodied people do at all. I just do them slightly differently. Does that make me an inspiration? No. Does that give you the right to look up to or down on me? Hell to the no, I ain’t got time for that bullshit. Does that mean you have a limited or skewed perception of people with a disability? Most likely. Does that mean you have had very limited contact or actual real-life interactions with living breathing individuals who have a disability? I would say that that is a big screaming yes.

The way you treat someone with a disability can be a real deal breaker for people who live with a disability. Treating us simply based on your own beliefs, thoughts and misconceptions are massively detrimental. Talk to the person like you would anyone else, get to know them for who they are before you start treating them as their disability. Ask appropriate questions instead of just living in your own sheltered world.

Lastly, even if it’s a subconscious thought that you’re not aware of don’t think that you’ve got it so much better than just because you don’t happen to have a disability.