Welcome, one and all, to February’s Disability Blog Carnival – the 74th, if you’re counting. I asked you to Participate, and you did. While ‘Participation’ is perhaps not the most exciting of themes, a great set of writers have interpreted it in all kinds of ways. Here, in no particular order, are their fantastic posts.
Our first post comes from In my eyes my life with cerebral palsy (a blog whose strapline I adore), about going for what you want in life. A childhood example shows the impact of getting involved:
Having that kind of impact can involve some serious work, though. When social and physical barriers are everywhere for disabled people, participating in the most ordinary of activities can be frustratingly difficult and thoroughly depressing. This month, Wheelchair Dancer related an experience of back-door access, poor service and relegation to second-class-citizenship. I was impressed by her tenacity in complaining. More of us could participate if more of us stood up for our own rights.
Staying with these themes of society and expectations, The Right To Design has a thought-provoking post this month about prosthetic limbs. Are they more about society’s need to normalize disabled people than about function? In short, do we need to ‘look right’ before our participation in society will be more acceptable? And what are the reactions when we refuse to fit in like this?
Meanwhile, Carl tells us that participation can be boring when you’re ordinary, while Teafeather continues with the theme of ordinary things by talking about participation in online forums. After all, as Carl points out, despite the supercrip stories the media likes to revel in, most of us are indeed ordinary:
Diary of a Benefit Scrounger has contributed a beautiful prose poem, which captures the complexity and ambiguity of participation in a society that cuts benefits and demonises disabled people. I love the spirit of defiance that shines through it:
Thinking about a similar kind of paradox, Astrid is concerned about the double-bind of participation in society for disabled people:
In societies where access and equality are very limited, campaigners have to work even harder towards equal participation for all. The editor of Women’s Web, which is based in India, has contributed this interview with a mother of a child who has autism. She lives in Bangalore and campaigns for access to play spaces. And her campaign group is making a difference:
Elizabeth McClung and Cheryl have been thinking about participation in communities of disabled people, but in rather different ways. Elizabeth considers how disabled people are quite capable of excluding (other disabled) people from our communities. Cheryl, an ADAPT activist, begins by thinking about ways in which ADAPT is like a youth club where she feels like she belongs completely, and goes on to think about how she could engage other young people in the same kind of activism:
Spaz Girl tells me she thinks her Able Privilege Checklist is off-topic, but it’s full of gems about how easily non-disabled people take their access for granted, echoing many of this month’s posts. My personal favourite from her list:
I want to end with Sharon Waschler’s excellent post over at After Gadget, which returns to the ambiguities and complications of participation in life – and activism, and many other things – when you’re disabled. A lot of us will be able to identify with her difficult story of making a supreme, costly effort to stand up for disability rights, only to meet with a defensive reaction, or worse. But her reaction of “If not me, who?” is a reminder, for me, of why it’s important to keep campaigning even when it’s incredibly hard work:
Happy 74th Disability Blog Carnival, all. I hope I haven’t missed off anyone’s entries, but it’s been that kind of a week, so let me know if I have! See you at the next Blog Carnival – ETA: this will be over at A Writer in a Wheelchair on 25th March, and the topic is ‘Milestones’. You can leave links to your entries in the comments there, or e-mail Emma at ejcrees ‘at’ googlemail ‘dot’ com. Enjoy.
“We all participate in weaving the social fabric; we should therefore all participate in patching the fabric when it develops holes.” ~ Anne Weisberg