Train Wheels

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Please join me on a journey through the minds of many people on the subject of disability. We’ll be traveling by way of the Train of Random Disability Thoughts. So, while aboard the train, please keep your sense of humor at all times, wait until the after closing remarks to exit, and most of all, enjoy the ride.

  1. Are you OK? Why are you looking at me like that?
  2. How does he do that all by himself every day? He’s such an inspiration to me.
  3. If someone tells me that I’m an inspiration again, I’m gonna punch them in the face!
  4. What’s normal to me just isn’t normal to you.
  5. I wish I could be like everyone else — or just normal.
  6. It’s funny how people think that I’m not normal. I think I’m unique and proud of it.
  7. Bet you didn’t even know I have a disability.
  8. I’m not disabled. I’m just in a language minority.
  9. What happens when the minority becomes the majority?
  10. It’s frustrating because I wasn’t born this way.
  11. That school has been closed for 20-something years. Why don’t they turn it into an accessible housing complex?
  12. I thought we were further along in the disability rights movement than this. How much further do we have to go?
  13. I feel badly for the guy. It’s not his fault his building is so old. I mean, he’s no villain.
  14. Heard of patience much? Give me a second, will ya?
  15. Hey, you in the chair, slow down! This ain’t NASCAR.
  16. Why did she just apologize to me when I rolled over her feet? Wasn’t that my fault?
  17. How am I supposed to live off this (Social Security Disability Insurance [SSDI]) every month?
  18. If and when I need it, will SSDI be there for me?
  19. I’m so glad there’s been so much amazing progress made.
  20. Change is coming …

As we pull into the station, the commotion could have jostled some things. Please check for all of your subjective baggage, and make sure it’s still there and intact. During the ride, hopefully you were able to appreciate the candor and the take in the point of view.

The intent of this journey was not persuasive, but instead completely exploratory. Just so you know, no one was harmed in the transfer of these thoughts. In fact, picking the brains of people with and without seen and unseen disabilities was intriguing.

Thanks to all of the vulnerable and brave people who helped bring forth this mind-tickling experience, showing that when people are in the quiet of their own minds, the subject matter of disability definitely still resonates.

Even in our so-called progressive and modern world, research reveals that our society is still, at times, full of very polar perspectives. There are still so many questions and so much to learn and be done to create an environment that is inclusive for all. It seems like if it were not for fear of the PC police, some thoughts would become words. That could be a good thing.

The possibility of heightened emotions? Yes, but also an opportunity for deeper conversation, more effective communication and greater understanding.

Fields do not fruitfully flourish without the tiresome toiling of the soil. In the same fashion, our society may not achieve the productive collaboration and inclusive acceptance of all for which we hope it is striving without speaking and actually heeding the harsh realities of truth.

Thanks again for riding the Train of Random Disability Thoughts. I hope you enjoyed your trip.

Janá Thomas is the Grassroots Community Organizer at Paraquad. She can be reached at jthomas@paraquad.org.

Photo credit: Björn Kinscher

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