Growing up, I
Let’s face it, disability wasn’t a term that was particularly positive, attractive or progressive 30 years ago. Whilst we have seen some change around the perception of disability in Society, that change has been slow and there is still much more that needs to progress.
Now I’m a 30-something, well-travelled woman and I’m happy to share that I have fully embraced calling myself a disabled person. But why?
Well, there are a few reasons:
- Whilst change has been slow, disability is definitely having a moment in Society and these changes are making it easier to be a disabled person than ever before:
- The Government has several initiatives to help disabled people get into and stay in work, including the Disability Confident Scheme and Access to Work.
- Businesses understand the prevalence of disability and are transforming experiences for their disabled employees and customers.
- Retailers and service providers are beginning to understand the power of the ‘purple pound’, or the collective spending power of disabled people.
- Better onscreen representation than ever before and dedicated programmes around disability. Don’t get me wrong, onscreen representation of disabled people is still massively low but it’s improving. As an Asian disabled woman, I have still never felt properly represented in Society, which is what motivated me to be part of the change that I want to see.
- More individuals and
organisationsare adopting the social model of disability, which recognisesthat people are disabled by barriers and bias, not by their impairment or difference.
- The final reason is about the day-to-day mundane things in life such as calling the disabled booking line to book concert tickets or if I need to park my car: sometimes I need to use a disabled bay and my Blue Badge.
It occurred to me that everything around me was
My condition is and has always been a part of my identity, just like I’m a woman, I’m British, my ethnicity is Indian, I’m a sister and a daughter. I can’t be separated from it and live a different life as if it doesn’t exist, because every single moment of my life has been lived through this lens.
Once I was at peace with that, I jumped in feet first, into owning this identity.
Since adopting this view and embracing my identity by calling myself a disabled person I’ve become more empowered as an individual and now belong to an enormous community. It has motivated me to become a disability rights advocate and fight for everyday equality.
About Shani Dhanda
Shani is the founder of the Diversability Card, the UK’s first official discount card for disabled people. She is also an award-winning events manager and has raised more than £450,000 for charity.