Disabled people share uncomfortable encounters on social media with hash tag #AbledsAreWeird
"She is blind. How does she look beautiful, "I wonder how their relationship would be since he is on a wheelchair, "Can a deaf person really date?. These questions are definitely weird. But people with disabilities hear them almost every day in their lives. People without disabilities tend to judge those with disabilities and most of them are even considered inspiring and motivational. But this can be totally weird. Disability rights activist Imani Barbarin recently started a campaign on social media with the hash tag #AbledsAreWeird where disabled people share stories and incidents of how awkward a non disabled person can get while commenting about someone's disability.
Barbarin, who was born with a disability, was diagnosed at the age of two years. This young lady who uses crutches says that she has never felt uncomfortable in her body. But comments made by people without disabilities on her body is what makes her extremely uncomfortable. Basically, she just feels that it is super weird. She wanted more people with disabilities to share their stories so that they know they are not alone. That is what made her kick-start the campaign.
Vinayana Khurana is a wheelchair user from New Delhi. She is a much acclaimed writer and poet who has published her works in many renowned platforms. In her blog Vinayana's World, she shares some of the most awkward questions that are often asked to her.
One of the questions that I was asked recently, are you on a wheelchair, can't you walk? I replied saying no aunty, I can walk. I just sit on it for fun! Another one was how can she eat anything? Like both vegetarian and non-vegetarian? I told her I can eat your brain too. It is high time people become more sensitive when they pass comments on another person's disability-Vinayana Khurana, Writer and Poet
Barbarin points out that most of the times, she has felt like a showpiece in front of other people just because of awkward and unnecessary comments. No matter how comfortable the other person without a disability is made to feel, most of them wants to pass an uncomfortable comment.
By starting the campaign, Barbarin hopes that people without disabilities understand the need to restrict themselves from passing comments at a disabled person that can be rude and offensive. Sensitization is extremely important. More importantly, Barbarin wants disabled people to understand that they must openly speak out next time they hear an unpleasant or unwanted comment from a person who is not disabled.
Pulkit Sharma is a wheelchair user who reviews accessibility of restaurants in New Delhi.
"People who do not have a disability must understand that some of their comments can be really insensitive. Those with disabilities are human beings as well. We eat, sleep, enjoy, laugh and cry too. If you think that when a disabled person does all this it is weird, then you definitely need some clinical help, says Sharma.
Looks like, Barbarin's #AbledsAreWeird campaign is picking up on social media. Thousands of people from across the globe have already shared it reflecting how successful it has become.
"That one time someone asked me if I could just move out of my chair bcs the chair was taking up a lot of room. I was pissed and responded with, "I'm not in this wheelchair bcs it's fun." And she literally responded, "Ok. Why ARE you in the wheelchair then?" #AbledsAreWeird, tweeted Marybeth.
"Got an F on paper I worked very hard on. My teacher said even though he couldn't prove it was plagiarism he knew I had not written it because he had never seen a deaf person write in English like that. #AbledsAreWeird, tweeted Shoshannah Stern.