What do I want able- bodied people to know?

When you have a disability there will be certain aspects of your life that abled- bodied people won't be able to relate to. This isn't necessarily because they aren't trying or because they choose to alienate disabled people, there are just some things that can be hard to get your head around. However, as a disabled person in the 21st century there will be things that the general public can do to create a more inclusive environment.

Generalising the attitudes and behaviours of able- bodied people would be the same as generalising that every disabled person is the same. I know not all able- bodied will contribute to what I am about to say and if you don't then I am very thankful for this. This is merely my experiences and some of the things I would like you to know, with reassurance from other disability campaigners that I am not alone with these thoughts.

1. We often feel excluded

How we are viewed within society can make us feel excluded. There almost seems to be a separation between disabled people and the general public. Many of us have to fight for things that should be a given and this is extremely hard work. It is almost as if the issues faced by disabled people are not seen as important to the general public people. Whether this is straws, food packaging, train travel, employment. I understand that paper straws are not the end of your world, but this isn't always the case for us. Instead of working against us and thinking we 'don't matter' or 'are only a few people' why not listen?
"That they remember disabled people aren't some separate group. We are the one group of society, any person can join in the blink of an eye. We are the non-disabled the moment after that blink. Or as they age or get ill. A better world for us is a better world for everyone."- @MikScarlet
This exclusion can be from social events, buildings we can't get into or simply being ignored completely. We know we may have different access arrangements and things may not be as simple when wanting to go out, but we too are entitled to have fun. Socially we can be excluded from events because it is deemed that we ‘couldn’t do that’ or people don’t want to ‘deal with us’. I know these sound like assumptions, and not everyone is like this at all. I think society still sees the disability before they see the person and the awkwardness of this leads to exclusion.
"When their meeting/ interview/ building/ bathroom/ gig / cafe/ train isn't accessible it's just one of MANY places I have tried and failed to get into that day. It's that constant grind that gets so exhausting. So often they get to act like it's a one-off incident."- @walla7437 
2. A disability can be very hard to manage at time

Having a disability can be incredibly difficult. It be painful, infuriating and unpredictable. It's often the unpredictability that can get in the way. We are sorry if we cancel plans, this doesn't mean we don't want to see you. It can be frustrating when we are able to do something one day and then struggle with the same task the next. Please understand that this is a legitimate part of our disability. Similarly, attitudes toward disabled people can often be one of the hardest parts.
"Not all disabilities are visible (I feel like that'll be a common answer but it's something that lots of people forget!)"- @NatalieMLW 
Negative attitudes towards disabled people are not always the more extreme things that may come to mind. It would be a lie to say disabled people are not faced with hate crimes and people being aggressive towards them. However, attitudes can be much subtler than this. From my own experiences it is so common for people to talk to the person I am with, even if it is about me! The attitudes and stereotypes around disability are extremely negative, or the fact we are all 'inspirational', can add to the difficulties of our disability.
"If you use a white cane you are constantly assumed to be totally blind, and therefore incapable. However, 94% of registered blind people have some vision, and even if someone is totally blind it doesn't mean they are incapable! It's the lack of awareness and education that has the biggest impact on my life. The assumptions people make and the interventions they assume are appropriate."- @BlondeHistorian
3. It changes you as a person, but this isn't always for the bad
It is completely understandable that a disability shapes who we are. It is often a big part of our lives. Having a disability can impact our hobbies, our friendships or our career choices- plus many other things! However, there is the misconception that a disability can only shape a person in a negative way. Without a disability some of us would not have achieved the things we have. I know that I probably wouldn't have a blog or be pursuing the career I am if I was able- bodied. Despite the difficulties that come with a disability we want people to know that we wouldn't have it any other way.
"I love it when I tell people that my visual impairment has enriched my life in a positive way and they immediately argue telling me there can't possibly be anything good about it lol I'M the one actually living it! I would know!"- @HowCaseySeesIt  
There is the assumption that disability is a bad thing. Our lives may be completely different and hard for able- bodied to comprehend, yet this is sometimes lost in translation. Society often think that becoming disabled is the worst thing that could happen to a person. Our lives are not deemed good enough, positive or enjoyable- oh how untrue this is! Despite a disability changing us as a person, it doesn't make us any less of a human. We want able- bodied people to know we are not people for them to pity.
"I am still human."- @thedeafactivist
4. Success is possible

This may seem fairly obvious but it's often overlooked. Success in an able- bodied world may need to be achieved in a different way, with the help of adaptions or adjustments. However, this doesn't make our successes any less or different to the next person. We too strive for independence, education and happiness. Sure, we can be Paralympians, motivational speakers or disability activists. In fact I am extremely proud to hold of one these roles. However, attitudes often limit us to these roles and society forgets we are capable of being their retail assistant, accountant or hairdresser.
"So many things, if we want help we'll ask for it and just because we are disabled, we can still live fulfilling and independent lives"- @lifeofablindgrl 
They forget we have dreams and aspirations just like them over the career we want. I understand that some impairments may limit roles we have to a certain extent but that’s for us to figure out – not to be told by members of the public. Aside from this we can be successful in all aspects of our lives. Due to obstacles that are put in our way, we're probably more determined to succeed! On the other hand, success is because we work for it and deserve it, not 'we only got that because we're disabled'. We are more than our disability.
"That I am still me, I still have thoughts, feelings, wishes and dreams I want to achieve"- @WYP_AnnaButton  
So what changes can happen?

We are starting to see that difference, the hard work is paying off and awareness is being raised. But we aren't there just yet.

The biggest change that society could make would be to be more open to the idea of a disabled person being just like them. Yes, we have limitations, but doesn’t everyone? If the general public got onboard and support inclusion then it would make society a better place. Just because something doesn’t have a direct impact on them, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t get involved.

This is what we want you to know. Together change can happen.

~ Chloe x

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