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Why are so many of us labeled handicapped

Updated on March 20, 2012

Wouldn't it be nice if the people of the world stopped negative labeling, especially handicapped for those who depend on devices to live a "normal" life, and did more enabling. Well in some cases it wouldn't work but in many it should. There were times in my life when a label was needed.

When a bottle of liquor was more important than anything else in my life people called me a drunk. This label was needed and deserved. People's lives were affected negatively by my addiction. Without this label help would have never been asked for. Now recovering alcoholic will remain a label until my death, but that is my choice.

It seems like labels have been part of my life since my mother delivered me. It has been papoose or baby, toddler, child, teen, and brave. For me those were in Cherokee, Spanish, and English. With age came heathen, and finally mostly in English, adult.

From the adult point on a quite a few are going to be left out. No one wants to hear them, even me. For the last two years of my fathers life they were heard everyday. He required care which was given from a wheelchair. He had been a kind and caring father until his brain was changed by senile dementia. It took me a while to figure out the disparaging things he was saying and his constant hitting were the disease, not him.

Actually there are a few which fit well and should be mentioned. Christian, teacher, veteran, father, stepfather, care provider, and husband come to mind. Workaholic and provider are also acceptable. Enabled and alive are my favorites.

The ones which bother me the most are Disabled and handicapped. There are places which can't be reached, people who can't be visited, and times help is desperately needed yet anything required of me has been done. Anyone who can live alone and be completely independent in my mind shouldn't have to carry those labels.

In the town called home the closest most accessible place is the local bar, which for obvious reasons is not frequented. Everywhere else requires a four wheel drive vehicle in the winter so one of them has been, except for three and a half years, part of my life since shortly after going into the wheelchair. These two types of vehicles are my enablers, they give an independence which would otherwise not be possible.

Great strides have been made towards removing barriers in the past fifteen years. More work is needed however before one can truly say a wheelchair dependent person is truly enabled. Places frequented have found ways to make my life more comfortable especially the ones who have been told writing on high counters is causing me to lose my sight. My local bank put a desk in the lobby because their counters are way too tall. Some places let me go behind counters where there are desks or give me a clipboard to do whatever writing is necessary. As crazy as it sounds credit cards have been the best enabler. With them the only thing required is a signature and not even every time.

There is now a bike trail about one hundred and fifteen feet from my front door which can be used to get downtown in the summer so a motor vehicle is no longer necessary. Curb cuts have been added and replaced so actually being downtown is now a pleasure. So why should the labels disabled or handicapped apply just because wheels are used to get me everywhere.


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