Infantilising Disabled People is a Thing and You’re Probably Unconsciously Doing It.

Elizabeth Wright
Age of Awareness
Published in
6 min readJan 13, 2020

--

Photo by Verne Ho on Unsplash

Buzz buzz buzz

I glanced up as the buzzer at the front of the shop went off. An elderly woman was making her way down the aisle, between the front of shop counter and the racks of brightly coloured magazines. Clutched in her hand was her banking book.

It had been a boring day in the newsagent slash post office that I had been working in for the past couple of months. My boss, Maggie, had been teaching me the ropes of the post office end of the business. How to print out postal labels, weigh the packages, and filling in customs declarations correctly. She had also been teaching me how to do banking as part of the service the post office offered. This was an important job. And you have to keep in mind I am no banker, maths, or tech whizz.

It was a job I was frankly terrified of…

And here was this woman motoring her way towards me, with her bank book in hand, and I was the only one on post office duty that afternoon.

Plastering on my brightest smile, I greeted the woman —

“Hi there, how are you today? What can I help you with?”

She smiled warmly back at me and thrust her bank book into my face, “here you go love, I need to deposit some money into one account and withdraw some from another.”

I felt my stomach drop… why oh why did she want to deposit money. Withdrawal I could manage easily, but depositing. Reaching up to grab her bank book I was so nervous about doing the deposit that I failed to notice her eyes widen as she took in my hand. I did, however, notice her eyes drop and take in my shortened right arm.

“Are you alright love?”

My cheeks warmed as I replied, “yep!”

The woman was now leaning slightly over the counter invading my personal space. Clearly pronouncing her words, her eyes were earnest, concerned, and full of a false sympathy.

“ARE… YOU… SURE?”

I leant back. Did she think I hadn’t heard her? I suppressed the urge to roll my eyes, “I’m fine, thank you.”

Reaching across the counter she patted my hand, “oh bless, aren’t you clever darling?”

--

--

Elizabeth Wright
Age of Awareness

Elizabeth is a disability activist, Paralympic Medalist and keynote speaker on disability, inclusion, and allyship. linktr.ee/elizabethlwright