Welcome to DisCo!

I’ll be honest: I’ve always made fun of blogs. “Mommy blogs” full of impossible parenting tips, recipe blogs where the author tells their entire life story before getting anywhere remotely close to a discussion about cooking. Those incredibly niche blogs about birding or pottery or identifying edible plants that seem more like a diary for the writer than something meant for a wider audience. But here I am, curating my first blog, because I think it is an excellent format through which to meet my ultimate goal: sharing stories. Particularly, stories of disabled people living in New Hampshire.

Four boxes with simple black graphics: a wheelchair, an eye, an ear, and a brain.

Who, What, Why?

In my four years living here, I’ve racked up quite a health record. First, it was a chronic mental health diagnosis. Then a rather shocking report that I have a degenerative hearing condition and was probably half deaf most of my life without realizing it. And now I’m trying to figure out why I get dizzy every time I stand up, why I’m so tired all the time, and why, despite my best efforts, I cannot sit still. But this isn’t a blog about my medical reports, it’s about the disabled experience in New Hampshire. And as a multiply disabled person, I can say that it is often a frustrating one. Perhaps mostly due to the fact that the disabled community is an afterthought in the minds of most organizers, business owners, employers, and educators. A ramp is not the cure to all of our woes. A press conference on the state of a devastating pandemic needs to have sign language interpreters and captions, because, believe it or not, deaf people want to stay safe too. And a three hour Zoom webinar should probably have a few five-minute breaks scattered throughout for bathroom usage.

These examples speak to the everyday frustrations of being disabled, the constant reminders that this world is not designed for people like my friends and me. Sometimes, this is because abled people forget that disabled people exist. This blog is here to remind you that we are here, we are whole people with dreams and jobs and families and pets and hobbies, and we have interesting things to say! There are disabled people doing amazing work to make our state a more accessible and enjoyable place. These are the voices I’d like to highlight through this blog. There are also disabled people whose careers and passions don’t relate at all to accessibility, and we’ll be hearing from them as well.

Rules of Engagement

I would love for this blog to be a space that encourages conversation, connection, and learning. In order for that to happen there are a few ground rules everyone needs to follow:

  1. Don’t tell people how they should refer to themselves. I refer to myself as a disabled person. Others prefer to refer to themselves as a person with a disability, or maybe they use another term. Don’t tell people what to do.
  2. Don’t ask questions about peoples’ medical history. It’s none of your beeswax!
  3. Don’t give unsolicited advice. If I had a dime for every time someone told me that green tea or wheatgrass or chanting the name of a mystic deity while standing on my head would cure my ills, well…I’d be living in Portsmouth instead of Barrington (no shade to Barrington, I am a Calef’s superfan). Chances are, whatever advice you’re giving is something we’ve heard before, and it gets tedious trying to explain everything over and over again.
  4. No hate speech. If you use any slurs or other derogatory terms, I will block you so fast your head will spin.
  5. Be nice! We could all use a little kindness in these strange times. If you like what someone wrote, tell them. If you have a thoughtful, respectful question, ask it. Let’s build community here!

Looking Ahead

If you have questions about accessibility, disability justice or history, or any generalist disability stuff, feel free to shoot them my way at neighborhoodaccess2020@gmail.com. Seeing as this is the first post, I’d love to hear from you, the reader. What are you interested in learning about? What types of stories related to disability interest you? Do you know someone who’d be a great fit for a feature on this blog? Tell me about all of this and more in the comments.

Our next post featuring a special guest author will be posted in February. In the meantime, I hope you have a fabulous and safe start to 2021!

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