What Lack of Disability Accommodation Means to Me

I would like to begin by apologizing for the long break between posts. The problem with writing about disability and depression is that you have to deal with disability and depression and sometimes that alone is all-consuming.

Thank you for your patience.

xx Brooklyn

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Before I had a diagnosis I was not legally disabled, and as such I had difficulty finding others with similar experiences. Despite several years of having a disability, I have only recently found myself to be part of the disability community.  Settling into this newfound headspace has been enlightening for me. I have found a group of people who advocate for themselves, and by doing so advocate for me. 

As I have watched these individuals speak about their experiences as a marginalized group, I have found that I am becoming increasingly impassioned about my own rights. 

When I first moved into my apartment, the only handicap spots were at the basement level of the parking garage. As the site was still undergoing construction, elevators had not been put in yet. This means that to park in a handicap spot I had to walk up several flights of stairs to get to my apartment. I called the property manager and asked about when handicap parking on all levels would be implemented, and they said that it was “indefinite”. 

When I received my accommodation reports for my classes, one of them simply said that they couldn’t make any modifications for me. This means that if I am sick and miss one of these class periods, my grade is affected the same as every other student’s despite my medically-supported need for a modified attendance policy. 

I woke up terribly sick last week but I still forced myself to go to school. I drove to my second class of the day but found no handicap spots open within a half mile of the classroom. I was too sick to walk that far so instead of going to class I parked my car and I cried. 

A few months ago I would have been sad about these things, but I would have told myself that this is just what happens when you’re disabled. I would have reminded myself that I am a burden and that I am not allowed to ask for more than what everyone else gets. 

Now, however, I refuse to speak to myself this way. I refuse to accept the discrimination of these companies. 

These may seem like insignificant experiences. When you are not disabled, it is hard to understand the impact that these types of things can have. If you are having trouble understanding how this makes me feel, let me explain.

I spend my entire life trying to convince people that my existence is worth accommodating.

When my school refuses to give me attendance modification, they are telling me that I, as a person, am not worth the extra hassle that it would take to create a new attendance policy. They are saying that I don’t deserve assistance despite the legal and medical proof that it is a necessity. 

When my school has inadequate disability parking, they are telling me that it is too inconvenient to make it so that I can go to class. They will pay for my tuition but they will not pay for my accommodation. They want me there as long as I am able-bodied. 

When my building refuses to make their apartments handicap accessible, they are telling me that my existence is inconvenient to them. It would take too much time and money and effort for them to make it so that I can walk into my unit.

It really sucks when your own home doesn’t want you. 

I am so tired of being told that I do not matter. I am tired of asking people to respect my worth as a human being. 

There is guilt and shame around asking for accommodations. It feels like cheating. But it isn’t cheating. As my boyfriend told me a few days ago, it’s just “leveling the playing field”. 

If you have a disability of any kind, physical, mental, or emotional, I hope you do not hesitate to ask for accommodation. I hope you remember that your capabilities have absolutely no effect on your value as a human being. I hope you know that it isn’t taking the easy way out. It’s giving yourself the power to live your life as fully as possible. No able-bodied person deserves that more than you do. 

If you don’t have a disability, I hope you take time to notice the messages you are sending to those around you. Do you get irritated when someone needs a little extra time or assistance? Do you find it inconvenient to adjust your plans to accommodate those that are less able? If you do, I can assure you it is much much more inconvenient for them than it is for you. 

Please stand up for your disabled friends and family. Together we can stop society from inundating our chronically ill and disabled friends with messages of incompetence and shame. 

Our lives are hard enough without having to beg to be respected as human beings. 

I am done being told that I am a burden. I will not listen to these messages anymore.

I hope you will help me fight them. 

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