I noticed that I’ve secretly been apologizing for being disabled. Trying to make excuses for us, trying to give abled people a good feeling about all they do for disabled people. But no more. I’m done.
The other day my family and me went to an amusement park. It was a great day, and I was very happy to be there. We wanted to take the little train that took us from one side to the other, so we got in the line. Wen we wanted to get on the train however, we had to split up. Why? Because there was only one place for a wheelchair in the train, and other people were already sitting next to it.
My brother is in a wheelchair. So my parents took the spot with him, and me and my sisters went to the back of the train to take a seat. So much for a fun outing with my whole family. Now you might say, ‘oh, who cares? You were still with your sisters right?!’ True. But I went to this park with my family. And as it so happens, we we’re split up because only one place in this train was suitable for disabled people.
Two supervisors per disabled person
Now don’t get me wrong. Normally I also wouldn’t make a fuzz, but something just clicked in my brain, and I started to cry. This wasn’t the first time we got split up. The park has a rule, for every wheelchair user you can bring two supervisors (yeah, that’s really how it’s called). So there wasn’t an attraction that we could enter with all of us, and the park employees asked us to ‘understand’.
I used to understand. I used to make excuses for it. That it would be too much trouble to fit in my whole family (of 7 people). But I don’t anymore. Because everytime they say that, what it feels like is ‘it’s your problem you’re disabled, just be glad that you can go with two people’. And I used to be glad that at least there was a possibility to go. But I’m getting more and more angry about it. We’re living in Holland for crying out loud! Why is it such a problem to get disabled people in an attraction? Why is there only one seat suitable for a wheelchair? And why do you choose to only let two people sit with the wheelchair user? Splitting up families, friends and what else more…
The bigger issue
It’s all part of a bigger issue though. We’re living in an ablebodied world where you should feel guilty for being disabled. Where you need to try your hardest not to be a problem. A world were disabled people are either an inspiration (the athletes for instance) or a burden (the ones we pity). And my goodness, have I tried not to be the last one. Always finding my own ways to fit in, to not ask for anything, and to be as ablebodied as possible.
But no more. This world is supposed to be a place for everyone. We need to take care of each other, and we need to make sure that everyone can live out their lives as normals as possible. This also means that a guy in a wheelchair should be able to take a rollercoaster ride with his 5 friends, not just his 2 supervisors. Make us wait in the line, we don’t care! But just get us in there with our family and friends. Just let us have the same life as you. Don’t you think we deserve that too?!
Photo: Hannah Morgan / Unsplash