The following section comes from Chapter 9,
titled “What I Learned.”
have become a disabled woman over time. I certainly would have rejected
such a title in the beginning. It could precipitate my death. Consign
me to an itty-bitty life.
And I was
never a joiner. I would have been describing myself as part of that group -
the ones whose lives are measured out by others.
For me and
other disabled people, the process of claiming disability as an identity and
the disabled community as our own is complex. I crept toward it, then skittered
away. I remained for a long time an eavesdropper, a peeper.
many people to bring me into the fold. To help me move toward disability, carrying
myself in the upright posture of a newly enfranchised citizen. My advancement
was due to other disabled people and, significantly, to the times we were living
I came of
age as a disabled person as the disability rights movement was evolving into
a recognized political entity. In the years from 1971, when I left rehab, to
the present moment, I have witnessed the passage of legislation aimed at integration
and equity in education and employment, and the emergence of many disabled
people from sheltered dwellings and workplaces.
cadre of disabled people has come out of those special rooms set aside just
for us. Casting off our drab institutional garb, we now don garments tailored
for work and play, love and sport.