Solingen 93

Domestic Violence and Abuse

Changing the conversation about disability

RICK HANSEN: When I had my injury in 1973, I was pretty much told not to expect very much living with the kind of disability that I was going to face. And, you know, what’s interesting is that at first, I really started to believe that because with my own attitude about what life with a disability was all about. JESSICA: After I had my accident, I definitely had to get used to how other people perceived me. It wasn’t just how I perceived myself anymore but how my friends and family and the general public looked at me. KAREN: I did face teasing and that kind of thing, where you’re called Captain Hook or something like that, which is never a fun thing to go through. But most of the things were just barriers that I put on myself. MALLAZ: Of course, you face people with different attitudes about blindness. Some of them, they think that blind people are in a certain closed black spot, that they don’t know anything about the world around them. EWA: One of my favorite quotes from one of the students that we worked with who’s in a chair is “I want people to see me for me, not the chair.” One of the biggest barriers that people with disabilities face is accessibility. And if we look at the built environment, it isn’t just getting into a building for people who are in wheelchairs. It’s people who have mobility challenges; people with visual or hearing challenges; people with some cognitive challenges and recognize signages and locations. And it’s not just people who have those existing permanent disabilities. It’s also those who have perhaps a temporary injury. EWA: What we’re trying to do is move the world on from a medical model of disability, where what we think about disability is “This person’s in a chair. This person has a spinal cord injury. This person is deaf.” That’s not disability. Disability only arises when you slot that alongside a barrier. So what we want to do is remove those barriers so that being in a chair is no longer a disability because it doesn’t hold you back from doing anything. When we left on our journey on the Man In Motion World Tour, it seemed like an impossible dream. Who would’ve ever imagined that by starting that journey, that it would turn from a Man In Motion journey to a global movement, filled by many in motion who are driving towards something that’s far larger than any individual and that together, anything is possible. JESSICA: What I really want from the community is for them to recognize that we are equals and that they shouldn’t look down on us. EWA: It’s really important that everybody gets an equal chance to take part in the things we do. Volunteering with the Foundation, making a donation, or thinking about your own attitudes and your own perceptions, and considering disability and accessibility in everything you do – those are all things that people can do to change the lives of people with disabilities. RICK: I see today, more than ever, that the original dream of the Man In Motion tour is possible. We can’t get there on our own. The solution that we’ve defined is a big incredible challenge. It’s going to require millions and millions of people getting engaged. It’s going to take their time, their talent, and yes, some of the resources that are necessary for us to to be able to turn this dream into a reality. We need your help and we can’t get there alone.

Cesar Sullivan

4 thoughts on “Changing the conversation about disability

  1. Well done. Gets the message out clearly and is just the right length. Very thought provoking and informative. Way to go Rick and team!

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