Two weeks ago I put out a newsletter for the Peer Support Program. One of my clients kindly let me publish a piece she wrote about self-advocacy. I thought I would share it with you!
People who do not have a disability often wonder why I am often complaining about something. I am not really a negative person, but because I live in a wheel chair, the system just makes me appear that way.
Just imagine if you could not drive, and the public transport system was not accessible, or the driver “can’t see you” because he just cannot be bothered pressing a button, or getting out of his cab and loading you. You want to go shopping, but you can’t get into the shop because there is a step, or worse still, a whole flight of stairs!
Narrow doorways, counters that are high, shops with crowded aisles, too high shelves, checkout lanes that are too narrow AND shopping carts!! They are almost impossible to wheel even without trying to dodge other shoppers.
The list of problems seems to be endless and sometimes overwhelming.
These are the things I thought of when Tully asked me to write something about self advocacy. Then I thought again, these are big problems that concern everyone who is disabled, we all need to work together to get these changes.
Personal advocacy can be the little things that happen day by day. Each time I ask if chairs could be moved at a little street café, so I can get through, I am advocating for myself. If I come back another day and the chairs have been rearranged, I know I have succeeded in making a difference for all of us.
I think the secret is to smile and explain to people what you need, and why, most people like to help if they can.
Now my local butcher, small supermarket, fruit shop and variety shop all greet me at the door with a smile and happily organize everything for me.
These may be small things, but they make my day easier and happier. I hope they also help other people become aware of our needs.
REMEMBER, SELF ADVOCACY BREAKS DOWN BARRIERS!