I’m Shoshana and it is super exciting to be joining everyone in the conversation happening here at Shameless!
I’m going to be talking about disability and the many ways that it plays out in all of our lives.
I have been disabled for most of my life, but I’m still pretty new to the disabled community. For me it is really interesting how even though I’ve been able to fall under the disability umbrella in terms of Chronic Illness and at times mental health stuff (how I feel about the language used to describe that is a topic for a completely different day) since I was a child, it took losing my hearing and being able to claim a “legitimate” physical disability that I came to understand and see myself as a disabled person. That discovery opened up my mind to a world of theories, discourses and ways of understanding the things that I always knew were going on around me but never had the words to name, and allowed my world to make sense to me in a way that it hadn’t before. It gave me tools to challenge the way that things are done, and has allowed me to find a home in many communities where there are people like me.
I think that disability cannot help but be both personal and political. It centers around how people and their bodies are seen, included or excluded. Every interaction, should it be using my hands and eyes to express myself and receive information rather than my mouth and ears, or by making choices about what treatments are best for my body, is a political statement about how we see and experience disability. Our bodies are profoundly personal, and all too often a disabled person’s experience of living in their body is completely discounted, particularly by the medical profession.
I’m looking forward to starting this conversation with everyone. I know that disability can sometimes seem overwhelming, and a bit like a club where you have to have a disability to belong, but I want to specifically take a minute to say that disability is about everyone. Many disabilities are acquired later on in life, and I’ve yet to meet someone who hasn’t had some encounter with disability. Allies are important in any community, and especially within the disability community. Please feel free to ask questions, add your input and your own experiences. Although I am disabled, I am by far not the defining disability experience, and many others have different experiences and views that are equally valuable and important. So, I encourage you all to come along with me for the ride, and share your stories and experiences so that we can make sure that our community has the voice and attention that it deserves!