Thursday, September 20, 2007

Becoming : Finding Ways to Express Yourself

"What is she doing?"
"Can anything be done about it?"
-from the movie Becoming Jane

My grandmother believed that girls who spent too much time reading and writing would become ill. In her day, girls were discouraged from getting "too much education". So, confronted with a granddaughter who had an insatiable desire to learn and write, she constantly appealed to my parents to quell my "unhealthy habits".

So when I saw the movie trailer for Becoming Jane with this dialogue, I laughed out loud. My niece would probably be baffled and shake her head at the illogical thought process behind these words, but anyone who knows the social mores of the time period in which Jane Austen lived knows these beliefs about women were a very real roadblock to females not that long ago - and vestiges remain.

So it is with disability. Disabled people have also historically been denied access to ways of communicating or the means thereof. We need to encourage people with dsabilities to express themselves - through art, writing and other means. This is an exciting time because people with different disabilities are using more mediums to do so as technology advances. As we open our minds to redefine ways to express ourselves, the results will be astounding. Technologically speaking, we've come a long way from Jane Austen sitting outside a country cottage with a pen and notebook in hand.

If you have a disability and you're reading this, I encourage you to find a way to express yourself. What you have to say is valuable. Once you empower yourself to speak up on topics that matter to you, you'll find others who are doing the same. There is nothing like having a community to enhance the quality of your life. All you need to do is google and look around the internet to find different groups of folks with common interests who do that on message boards - and that is simply the tip of the iceberg.

In my opinion, what matters is that we use every means at our disposal to achieve inclusion. Sometimes the internet is our best way to do that or, perhaps, our only way. Use it. Become a voice. And, perhaps someday,someone will speak these words about you:

"What is he/she doing?"
"Can anything be done about it?"

It will be your signal that not only are you blowing away others' expectations of what you can or cannot do or should or should not do- but a reason to keep doing it. Because you will meet many folks who are interested in hearing what you have to say - and who are traveling on the same journey. I call it a dialogue toward inclusion.

In the video below, the Disability Mural, which reflects the experiences of people with disabilties and those in their lives, is featured. The video contains audio and closed captioning.


Anonymous said...

I paint with a mouthstick. My drawings go on cards for birthdays and holidays for my friends and my family. I also paint scenes I enjoy. I like your blog because I have CP and I like to be included.


Ruth said...

Hi Joe,
Thanks for your comment. That's great that you do cards and paint. If you ever want to scan and send me any pictures I'll put them up on my blog here - would love to have them!