This site now acts as an archive only. For the latest news, opinion, blogs and listings on disability arts and culture visit disabilityarts.online.

Disability Arts Online

Question 2. Would you be rid of disability in your life, or is it part of who you are?

Leni D. Anderson Columbus, Ohio, USA
My disability is a part of who I am.  As much of a bother it can be, I do not think I would change anything.

Loretta Bebeau Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
I would love to have better hearing, and to hear whispers, but have resolved that loss within me. The autoimmune disease is my foe. But that too has allowed me to focus on making quality of life, rather than squander it away.

Allen Bryan  Brooklyn, New York, USA
Reduced vision is definitely an impediment. I’d love to have normal vision again.

Liz Crow Bristol, UK 
I wouldn't be rid of it, because I’d have had the experience.  That would require me not to know all that I do know.  And politically I couldn't say 'yes of course I'd get rid of it'.  I can’t. I think I’ve got a lot from the discrimination bizarrely.  In my twenties  - before I got really ill -  I was dealing with a lot of pain, but managing it.  I was able to do something with the experience of discrimination.. and that was great.... that was thrilling.

Liz Doles Newburgh, New York, USA
Yes, I’d love to have my vision restored and be completely free from the other effects of a chronic auto-immune illness, the fatigue, daily medications, repeated surgeries etc . . . but I do have a lot of acceptance and am grateful for the care I’ve gotten. 

Joan Fabian San Antonio, Texas, USA
I often think about that question and wonder if it would be any easier, but there would always be something to add to the obstacle course of life. When we get older, and I am discovering that now, we develop new disabilities that limit and challenge what we used to do when we were younger.  My eye sight used to be extremely strong but now I need glasses. This is frustrating and reminds me of when I was trying to get used to hearing aids. I am taking care of my elderly mother who has dementia and I see the changes that she goes through and the challenges get greater and one must get stronger.

My disability … has been with me a long time now so we have become friends.  I can't imagine not using my hearing aids. It used to be a love/hate relationship when I was younger. 

I believe it has made me aware of integrity of others and to "read between the lines". I question what I "hear" or read and ponder truth because of it. I also have realized that many people mis-communicate because spoken language by itself … is often open to interpretation.    Being disabled has made me more conscious to viewing the larger picture and not just one piece of evidence. We are often deceived.

Barbara Freeman, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
Friend or foe? No! The foe is the person who doesn't understand differences.

David S. Forbes,  Queensland, Australia
I have lived with Parkinson’s Disease for over 20 years now, and I can’t afford the distraction of “what-ifs” and “maybe stem cells will cure me”. My job is to continue creating artwork, for public art or gallery exhibition, which is interesting, appealing and relevant. PD is neither ‘friend’ nor ‘foe’, more like ‘constant companion’.

Ju Gosling  aka ju90 London, UK
No one can see prejudice and discrimination as being a ‘friend’, although it obviously forms part of my identity. But the whole point of the international Disability Arts movement is to fight for human rights and equality. The only people with a vested interest in disability continuing are non-disabled.

Busser Howell Troy, Ohio, USA
If there were an operation that would restore my sight, I seriously doubt that I would take advantage of it.  I don’t consider myself blind, in fact, I think I see much better than the majority of the sighted community that see little of what is right in front of them.

I am speaking about the sighted that come into your home, throw down their keys, and an hour later say, ”Where are my keys?”  It is the unawareness of not seeing the world around them -  architecture, foliage, or art -  that sighted people take for granted and in my opinion, miss half of what is in front of them.

Simon Mckeown North Yorkshire, UK
It is part of who I am, central to me. I wouldn’t change it, but at times I would say it is not a friend at a medical level, but at a social/society level it is 100% my friend.

Amy Miller Florida, USA
It is part of who I am.  I have made it a friend now.  I used to fight it, but saw how it came out in my art work. The two became friends, Art and Tourette’s Syndrome.

Janet Morrow Bedford, Texas, USA
I have mixed feelings about my disabilities. Overall, I would prefer that they had not occurred. Loss of the ability to communicate easily with others is something I feel particularly keenly. However, if things had turned out differently, I probably would not have had the opportunity to become an artist. My work prior to my disability (sales and marketing) was financially rewarding, but not as personally satisfying as creating art.

Isaac Powell Richmond, Kentucky, USA
I see it as a friend in that it has shaped who I am in terms of my character. It is also a foe in the sense that it makes some everyday tasks more difficult.

Janet Yagoda Shagam Albuquerque, New Mexico, US
I see it as an annoyance. Having epilepsy also keeps me grounded and respectful of who I am.

Bill Shannon  Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
Even if I were to magically be rid of it, it would still be a part of who I am. In my way of seeing, absence is not riddance. Absence is simply a
different relationship to a phenomena than presence.

Katherine Sherwood  Rodeo, California, USA
Friend or foe?  It is part of who I am proudly and is definitely a friend.