Curb Cut

Have you ever realized the privilege of walking?

Think about it, if you are a able bodied person (have the ability of complete motor function without difficulty), you do not have to worry about waiting for the side walk to slope down in order for you to cross the street. The slope down in a sidewalk is called a curb cut because literally there is no curb here to allow people who use wheelchairs to ease down onto the road.

Here is a challenge, or rather a social experiment:

  1. Next time you are walking consider the ease in which you are able to walk.
  2. Consider the cracks in the side walk and what a person in a wheel chair or scooter may experience. Think about the bumpy ride and the ailments that come with an unpredictable and uneven pavement. Think about how you may never have to worry about that.
  3. Think about how easy it is for you to step down from the curb while others have to wait until the end of the sidewalk.
  4. Then start waiting until the end of the sidewalk. Feel the difference.
  5. Be considerate to people and focus on what they can do.

Remember that even though someone may be confined to a wheel chair does not mean they are incapable of living life or that they are living life to a lesser degree. All it means is that they are living it in a different way.

GeneralPatty
Photo from What Can You Do Campaign for Disability Employment: http://www.whatcanyoudocampaign.org/index.php

If you have the understanding that people with disabilities are just living with different means then you must also understand that it is people with disabilities not disabled people. Using this language already limits what you think they can do and who they are as a person because you chose to list there disability first. Therefore it is more appropriate and polite to say people with disabilities. This is called people first language. 

This is something I feel strongly about and am sure I will continue to reference it. The common denominator is that we are all human and sure we may be different, able-bodied or not, but we are all people and that is more important to recognize then someones limitations. Especially since they can be living a fuller life because the truth is they are more likely capable for a whole lot more than you are giving them credit for.

Lastly, it is important to recognize that with aging comes challenges and may cause people to be less able-bodied. This is not a determined truth for everyone but you also don’t know what can happen tomorrow. For all I know I can be in a car accident tomorrow that will confine me to a wheel chair for the rest of my life. Therefore the point is that all individuals who are able-bodied are actually temporarily able-bodied.

6 comments

  1. Interesting post Geena! Lots to think about here on simply being grateful that we can move at all, instead of complaining that we had to walk SO long to get wherever it is we are going. I also love your reference to people first language. It’s so easy to say “disabled people”, or even worse “the disabled”, without truly thinking about the impact on your words, or that people are not their disabilities. Important thing to pay attention to!

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    • Thank you Erica! I am glad you got that people are not their disabilities. I wanted that to be emphasized with my introduction of people first language. It is a very good practice to get into.

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  2. This is a great post! I think it is something many people take for granted and don’t think about or consider. I can definitely relate to this post. A close family friend was in a very bad car accident several years ago that paralyzed her from her waist down. She is now in a wheel chair and had to alter her life. She now has to think of the things that most would consider “little,” like a curb cut and ramps, which are actually a very big deal for someone in a wheel chair. She is also not defined by her situation. She is a human being like you and me. Thanks for this post!

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    • Thank you Alayna! Thank you for sharing that with me. My cousin went through a similar situation and people don’t realize until they wake up one day and can’t even get in a car to get to work because it is no longer possible but they learn to overcome. Temporary able- bodied people need to overcome it as well and learn that people with disabilities are able to live a full and happy life. I am glad you liked my post!

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  3. What a powerful post. I don’t think I will be looking at sidewalks the same for quite a while. I got a lot from reading your comments, and understood that there must have been someone close to you that is faced with the daily challenges of not being “able-bodied” as you so well put it. I was ready to ask you myself and noticed it was already previously asked. It is quite interesting how our own perspectives change when the lives of those close to us change. I think this post was very persuasive and if you had any specific goal in impacting people (which I am willing to bet you do), you should know that you have. Thank you for sharing.

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