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What It's Like, #3
What It’s Like provides members of the Dal community with an opportunity to share their first-person perspective on living with a disability. People are welcome to share with their name or anonymously.
Tell us a little about yourself and your role here at Dal.
Staff member. Also queer.
What do you wish people knew about your disability?
What do I wish people knew? Assumptions are the core of most discrimination, including the unintentional. But it is also not our responsibility to educate you on those assumptions. It should be a choice and a gift to share our stories. Please take the time to search “ableism” to have a foundation of knowledge. Then look up “autism”, “adhd”, “mobility issues”, “brain fog”, “fatigue”, and any other disabilities and symptoms you encounter. Add things like “… in film”, “… in books”, “good representation of...” and you’ll find examples of fictional characters. Add “actors with…”, “authors with…”, “influencers with…”, any word to describe a person that may have a public presence and you’ll find other lived experiences. Question word choice and whether you know the history of a term before using it.
What I truly wish is for people to care. Knowledge means nothing if it doesn’t cause action. I wish people cared about how exhausting it is to constantly be in pain, constantly exhausted, constantly monitoring ourselves and our environment. I wish people cared about how infuriating it is to experience barriers with every interaction we have with the world. I wish people cared about how heart wrenching it is to watch someone try and measure themselves against standards, expectations, perspectives that don’t include them and internalize their worth based on that. And then realize you’ve done that yourself. I wish people cared about us past an opening ceremony, or a one-hour event, or a week, because this is our whole reality.
What accessibility changes would have the biggest impact on your experience here at Dal?
Learn about peoples’ experiences and then reflect on how that small glimpse is affecting their lives everyday. Look for relatable experiences in your own life and then take it a step further and think, what if? What if a person using a mobility aid were to use this entrance? What if a person with anxiety around public speaking is part of this meeting / class / discussion? What if someone you supervise / coach / teach would benefit from accommodations but doesn’t know what your response to such a request would be? Just like other thought patterns and behaviours, consideration for others will become a habit but only if it is worked on with consistency.
Attitude needs to change at Dalhousie. Those questions I just listed are overwhelming because of the amount of experiences that are discriminated against and overlooked. This is in large part why getting feedback, compensating for that feedback, and then actively listening to and applying that feedback from folks with lived experience is vital. Prioritize people and their lived experiences.
Previously in this series:
You can find all entries collected here.
Interested in sharing your own experiences?
We'd love to hear from you. Please take a look at our questions below and how to submit them. Please note that you can choose to remain anonymous if you wish. (Note: names will be visible to individuals receiving submissions by email).
Our questions for you:
- Tell us a little about yourself and your role here at Dal. (Note: If remaining anonymous, this prompt can be skipped — or, simply share as much detail as you feel comfortable doing).
- What do you wish people knew about your disability?
- What accessibility changes would have the biggest impact on your experience here at Dal?
If you’re interested in sharing your experiences navigating university life with a visible or invisible disability, please contact us at email@example.com with answers to the above questions or to set up a short interview.