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Disability Arts Online

For better or worse / 11 April 2012

 I'm planning my next trip to Japan and I hope this time to be bringing back my very own skinny-wheeled chair. Will it actually make a difference to my life?

Being in Japan opened my eyes to the realisation that I have accepted too many restrictions without questions; shouldered the burden of inequality as if I deserved it and run out of energy to care.

When I acquired my first manual wheelchair, I was overwhelmed with emotion. The gift of mobility was magical and although it took months to get it set up so that I could use it for more than 15 minutes without pain, I was immensely grateful to have it.

I was never able to go far in the manual chair, my shoulder joints are not really up to the roll, so when I became the owner of a powerchair, I was suddenly faced with the wonderful and terrifying prospect of going out alone.

I've never managed to afford the kind of vehicle that could transport the powerchair, so even when I am out alone, I'm never that far from home.

When I began as the paid coordinator for linkuparts, I tried to get access to work assistance to remedy the situation, but was told that any help that enabled me to be more independent for work was open to abuse - in that I might also use it in my free time.

With the Japanese chair, things could change and I'm actually scared.

Scared that they will and scared that they won't...

The London underground map

and the symbolic wheeled chair,

iconic part-truths to make life

easier. But while the map

harms no-one, not so the chair.

Over-simplified symbolism,

shorthand for all and every

disability, the chair is

all embracing and, for the horde

who only ever see the chair,

I too become synonymous

with every disability

known, imagined and unknown;

regardless of me and all

individuality.

Irrelevant to other

disabilities, this symbol

is a trap prejudicial to

my perceived identity.

I want out, I want free.

 
 
 
           

Keywords: identity,imagery,poetry,relating to wheelchairs,wheelchair users,Symbolism