Why Care About Disability Community?

Whether you want to get people to purchase a product or get excited about an idea, the hardest part is step zero: getting them to want the thing you have to begin with. This is where I find myself as I try to grow my disability group beyond the kind of student that shows up to the first meeting of a campus disability group. I have been here before, trying to show people that disabled space is worth having. I know it helps to have a good pitch. I will strengthen mine by writing it down and running it by you. This is my favorite part of what disabled identity has to offer:

  1. Finally being able to relax: If there is some way you can mitigate, minimize, or hide your disability, you probably do it. You do it so much you forget you do it. You get used to being a little extra tired. Hang out in disability community space, though, or especially in a space for people with your particular disability, and you can finally let your hair down, stop pretending, and remember what it feels like to unwind.
  2. Camaraderie and fun: With everyone feeling less self-conscious than usual, people get to know each other fast. Friendships grow quickly, and laughter starts as soon as someone breaks the ice. It is easy to bond and build a sense of community around the secret joys of unconventional lives and dark humor and complaints about the problems of living in an inaccessible world.
  3. Everyone has that problem: Feeling comfortable and making new friends are great things, ends in and of themselves. In disabled space, they come with the awesome fringe benefit of changing your environment for the better. If a lot of your new friends are all complaining about the same thing, you may have stumbled across a problem that is systemic rather than individual. Personal slides into political. When you talk to each other, “something should be done” and “I bet we could fix that” tend to be the conversations’ natural, rational conclusions. If you take the next step, make a plan and follow through, things might actually be different.
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