Monday, 16 July 2012

'If they can, you can.'

Often articles and news reports present disabled people doing something (mostly something everyone does) as a source for 'inspiration' and 'definitely you can do it' sentiments. That's inspiration porn. Disabled people are not your ego boosters. Some disabled people can do things other disabled people can't, some disabled people can do things abled people can't, some abled people can do things other abled people can't, some abled people can do things disabled people can't. That's it. Abilities vary, choices vary, support systems vary. To tell someone they can do it because a PWD did it, implies 4 things:

1. Seeing disabled people as inferior. 'Look, if that disabled person can do it, of course you can do it too.'
2. Trivialising the person's problem by saying it's something they can overcome, they just have to try harder.
3. Ignoring the wide range of abilities within the spectrum of human variation. Not everyone can do everything equally.
4. Excluding external factors. Nobody lives in a vacuum. What we do/get is largely influenced by the kind of people we live with and the attitudes held by the society. In an ableist society (one that keeps a closed eye towards the needs of the disabled, like accessibility, inclusion, etc), there is only so much a PWD can achieve with his/her efforts without a conducive environment.