I always get angry at myself when I leave a shop or venue and feel flattered that whoever I was dealing with spoke directly to me. It annoys me that it happens so rarely that I feel as though the attendant in question deserves a medal of honour for their efforts. Even when in fact it really shouldn’t be an effort at all.
Even worse, if ever I have an encounter with a child where they don’t go tearing from the room at the sight of me, I feel the need to heartily congratulate the parents on a job well done and in some cases, adopt the child.
I get that it’s my issue and that only I can overcome it, but the fact is that there are very few situations, (other than those in my own apartment) where I don’t feel singled out as the weird-looking disabled one.
I can’t really write about it either. In a recent post, entitled “Please stop helping me without my permission. It really is a pain in the arse”, I wrote about why I have the right to be left to my own devices, and I was told I was just ungrateful.
It’s easy to say that. You’re not the one with the painful bruise on your backside!
This being said, I got a real shock on Monday during our team meeting. We were discussing possible venues to get together to celebrate Christmas when suddenly someone chimed in with “we’ve got to make sure it’s accessible for Nina.” For a second I didn’t even realise they were referring to me.
In the interests of full disclosure, I will admit that, at first, that was because I couldn’t really hear the conversation properly – thanks to the humidity I was having a “bad ear day”.
However, it was also because at that moment (despite being very aware that I was hearing impaired), I had somehow forgotten that disability and in particularly mobility were an issue for me. I don’t remember a time where this has happened before.
Later, when I was back at my desk, opening my daily can of Coke with a fork (that I keep in my desk drawer for just this purpose), it occurred to me that this is why I felt so “normal” here. Because I can do normal things my way and no one really cares.
To me, this is the actual meaning of inclusion.