Something many with physical disabilities experience throughout their lives are curiosities (or outright accusations) of contagiousness. While people certainly haven’t stigmatized me in the ways other diseases are, viewed through the lens of threat or danger, there are still those lingering moments where my disability elicits a panic that what I “have” might be communicable. While medical science will tell you otherwise, I felt it was time to finally fess up and tell all of you the truth…
One of the more common questions I get asked when delivering lectures or motivational speeches is how I feel about people staring at me in public and what advice I have on managing ‘the stare’. The idea of staring and disability has been written about extensively, both within and outside academia, with the common discourse being that it is at best annoying and at worst offensive. I have a slightly different perspective on the subject and thought it was worth sharing here.
Yesterday I had the opportunity to stop by Listowel District Secondary School and speak with the students about (dis)ability and labelling. I had an absolute blast with these awesome students, answering questions about life with a disability, inclusion and how not to propose to someone (it’s a long story). After school, I was invited to speak to the LDSS staff about my experience as a student with a disability, which lead to an interesting discussion about inclusion and empowering students with disabilities and their families.
A huge thank you goes out to Rachel Suffern and everyone on the CIC team for putting this presentation together and the teachers of LDSS for putting up with me. Thanks for everything and hope to see you all soon!
Yesterday I had the honour of keynoting the Accessibility Conference, an annual conference geared toward advocates, activists, academics and professionals working in the field of accessibility held at the University of Guelph.