okay so one time back in grade 7 my class had an assignment where we had to design and create an invention for helping other people then present it to the class. At that time my next door neighbor had multiple sclerosis and was almost always in his wheel chair. My mother was his carer and one afternoon i was telling him about my day and watched as he struggled to balance his food on a stable table. At that moment i knew exactly what I was going to make. It took hours of searching the most common types of wheel chairs, heaps of money (which we didn’t have much of) to get the materials and a fair bit of tricky wood work but i was absolutely determined to make my project the best i could. Finally when it was done I took it over and tested it on his wheel chair and my god did he love it. It was a wooden tray table that clipped onto the arm of the wheel chair and had a cup holder and non slip material. He used it everyday until I had to take it in for presentation.
Now i was sure that i would get the best mark in class for my project. it met all the requirements and i had worked extremely hard on it. But when i got my mark back i had only just passed with a C. I went up to the teacher thinking there had to be a mistake of some kind. Even now I still remember exactly what she told me, word for word, “Sorry Cassie but that’s not exactly a useful tool for everyone now is it. There aren’t that many people in wheel chairs, it isn’t worth it to us in the same way the other children inventions are.” But the boy who taped a stick of deodorant to a fucking piece of wood got a fucking A!! As if that wasn’t an idea already thought up. For fucks sake he did it that day, literally drew up the plan that morning!
Look I know this is a big long post but I am saying this to point out Ableism is a big, important issue. I gave that tray to my neighbor, despite the school saying they had to keep it because it was technically “school work” and he used it until the day he died. And after that he gave it to a friend to use it. I made three others for more of his friends when he had to move into a home and they loved them because even in a place that was supposed to cater to their needs a stable tray that would not fall off their knees was apparently not something they had thought to provide, especially to people with inhibited dexterity. And yeah this probably had been made before at the time when I was making mine but looking now the cheapest I can find is at least 50 bucks! Hardly assessable for people with little money.
Years later and my blood still boils when I remember that the kid with stick deodorant got a better mark then I did, that his “invention” was considered useful while mine was not. I am still so angry that a school teacher would tell a child that what they had built to help someone they cared for was not useful or important or wanted or needed and that those people were so few and far between that they didn’t matter. That the only thing that did matter was US, the able bodied people. I didn’t quite understand the way I do now at the time but I was still upset, my mother was pissed as hell and my neighbor, well when I told him it looked as though he had expected it.
These issues need to be addressed, and they need to be fixed. Teachers at schools separating the able bodied from those who aren’t and putting the able bodied above them only continues the discrimination and the attitude that there aren’t enough disabled people to really make it an issue worth their worry.
tldr: Albeism is taught from a young age to not only be the norm but to also be taught to the point where making everyday simple things for disable bodied people isn’t worth their time, effort or focus